The Cretan journalist who… saved “Washington Monthly”
Markos Kounalakis is a Greek-American journalist and author. Kounalakis is the president and publisher emeritus of the Washington Monthly and executive vice president of his father-in-law Angelo Tsakopoulos’ Sacramento real-estate company, AKT Development Corp.
Kounalakis was born in San Francisco. His parents migrated to the United States to pursue a better future. His father, Antonis, was a rebel fighting against Germans on the island of Crete during the World War II.
In the United States, Antonis worked as a mechanic and a taxi driver and later bought his own truck and worked in the construction industry. After his studies, Markos followed his footsteps and still carries his Class A driver’s license in his wallet.
“Every night at dinner, my father insisted the evening news be on television. So we would sit around the dinner table and watch world affairs. My father would give a running commentary during the entire time. So this is the environment in which I grew up”, says Kounalakis.
Markos graduated from Berkeley University in 1978. He received his MSc in Journalism from Columbia University and he has been a passionate lifelong learner since then. He reported for Newsweek during the end of the Cold War in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria Albania and East Germany.
Newsweek also sent him to cover the early phase of the Yugoslav civil war. He also went to Afghanistan and covered the Holy War Without End for The Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC Radio in Moscow from 1991 to 1992, where he was attacked, hospitalized and forced to end his career as a correspondent and fly back to the United States to start writing.
In 1993, he published his first book under the title Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton, followed by Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism in 1999. In 2008, he finished his third book Hope is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era and a fourth one under the title Reflections 1980-82: Markos Kounalakis in 2012.
He also directed the short movie The War Prayer. In 2002, The New York Times called him a White Knight for saving the venerable Washington Monthly magazine. He has since rejuvenated the magazine, grown its readership and increased its impact. Markos Kounalakis is married to Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, the US Ambassador to Hungary.
Together they founded two university chairs in Politics and Democracy at Georgetown University and at Stanford University, after the Tsakopoulos family had donated $2 million in honour of Constantine Mitsotakis to advance the Greek.