Markos Kounalakis

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A portrait of Markos Kounalakis.
Markos Kounalakis

Markos Kounalakis, PhD is a Greek-American journalist, author and scholar. Kounalakis is the president and publisher emeritus of the Washington Monthly, a magazine founded by Charles Peters in 1969. Kounalakis co-anchored the nationally syndicated weekly political program, Washington Monthly on the Radio.[1] He is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University[2] and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.[3] He writes a regular foreign affairs column for The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy-Tribune News. He is currently working on a book on the geopolitcs of news networks.


Early life[edit]

Kounalakis was born in San Francisco to refugee parents from Greece. His father, Antonios, was an underground guerrilla fighter against the Nazis on the island of Crete during World War II. He fought with Constantine Mitsotakis, who later became Prime Minister of Greece. Like his father, Kounalakis was a blue-collar construction worker who maintains his Class A heavy equipment truck drivers license.


Kounalakis is a political scientist specialising in international relations. His research focuses on the effects global media have on foreign policy. He received a public education in the San Francisco Bay Area and received his bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1978. He received his MSc in Journalism from Columbia University in 1988, was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Europe (1988–1989), and an International Journalism Graduate Fellow at the University of Southern California (1995–1996) and El Colegio de México in Mexico City. In the early 1980s he attended the International Graduate School at Stockholm University, Sweden, where he studied International Relations and became a fluent Swedish speaker.[4] He has regularly been a Hoover Institution Media Fellow since 2005 and will be a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University starting in September 2013.


Kounalakis worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC Radio and Mutual News in the USSR, based in Moscow from 1991–1992. He previously reported for Newsweek on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Albania. Newsweek also sent him to cover the early phase of the Yugoslav civil war. He went to Afghanistan and covered the "Holy War Without End" for The Los Angeles Times Magazine.

In 2002, The New York Times called him a "White Knight" for saving the venerable Washington Monthly magazine.[5] Publisher Kounalakis and editor Paul Glastris have since rejuvenated the magazine, grown its readership, and increased its impact – making it a "progressive must-read" in Washington, D.C., according to James Carville. Its expose of former education secretary William Bennett's gambling problem brought early attention to the Kounalakis/Glastris team.[6]


Kounalakis serves on the Board of Visitors at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Board of Advisors at Georgetown College and the Wilson Council at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Advisors at the Southeast Europe Project at WWICS; he is a trustee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California; and formerly served as Chairman of Internews Network 2002–2004; Vice Chairman of the California State World Trade Commission 2001–2003; Board of Trustees of the Western Policy Center 2001–2005. In June 2003, he chaired a multinational reconstruction conference in Athens, Greece where Iraq's media laws were drafted.

Kounalakis and his wife, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, have established two chairs in politics and democracy at Georgetown University[7] and Stanford University[8]

Marriage and children[edit]

He married Eleni Tsakopoulos in Istanbul in 2000. The couple has two sons, Neo and Eon.[9] His wife served as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary until 2013.[10]

Published works[edit]


  • Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton (1993)
  • Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism (with Drew Banks, 1999)
  • Hope is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era (June 2008)
  • Reflections 1980-82: Markos Kounalakis (October 2012)


The War Prayer [1] (short film, 2007)[11][12]


  1. ^ Washington Monthly on the Radio
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Markos Kounalakis, Mr. Ambassador". San Francisco Chronicle. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Carr, David (2002-04-22). "MEDIA; New Life for Washington Watchdog". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Green, Joshua (June 2003). "The Bookie of Virtue". Washington Monthly. 
  7. ^ "Georgetown Inaugurates Chair in Hellenic Studies". 2006-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Tsakopoulos family endows new professorship at Stanford". 2005-10-25. 
  9. ^ Dunteman, Dayna (April 2005). "Markos Kounalakis". Sacramento Magazine. 
  10. ^ "Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis". U.S. Department of State. 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  11. ^ Garchik, Leah (2007-05-25). "[untitled column]". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  12. ^ "Mark Twain War Protest Poem Interpreted Visually and Posted on YouTube". NEO Magazine. September 2007.