Markos Kounalakis writes a weekly foreign affairs column for the Miami Herald and all McClatchy news sites. He is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the president and publisher emeritus of Washington Monthly. Kounalakis is California's "Second Partner."

Kounalakis is a print and network broadcast journalist and author who covered wars and revolutions, both civil and technological.

He reported the overthrow of communism for Newsweek in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria and the outbreak of ethnic strife and war in Yugoslavia. He was based in Rome and Vienna and ran the magazine’s Prague bureau.

After Newsweek, he worked as the NBC Radio and Mutual News Moscow correspondent covering the fall of the Soviet Union as well as the war in Afghanistan. Kounalakis has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the International Herald-Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and many other regional and international newspapers and magazines.

He has written four books, Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering (Hoover Institution Press, 2018), Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton (Beyond Words Publishing, 1993), Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism (coauthor, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999), and Hope is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era (PoliPointPress, 2008).

He was born to Greek refugees in San Francisco in 1956 and received a public education, including his undergraduate years at University of California, Berkeley (1978, political science). He received his MSc in journalism from Columbia University (1988), was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Europe (1988-89), studying at both the Bundesakademie für öffentliche Verwaltung in Bonn, Germany, and the École Nationale d'Administration in Paris. He was an international journalism graduate fellow at the University of Southern California (1995-96) and El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. He did his doctoral work in political science (international relations) at Central European University and graduated summa cum laude (2016).

In the academic world, he serves on the Board of Councilors at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and the Board of Advisors at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy. He is a former member of the Board of Advisors at Georgetown College; a former member of the Wilson Council at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS) a; former member of the Board of Directors at the Center for National Policy; and former vice chairman of the Board of Advisers for the Southeast Europe Project at WWICS.

He served on the executive committee of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (2017-2019) as chairman of Internews Network (2002-2004); vice chairman of the California State World Trade Commission (2001-2003); member of the Board of Trustees of the Western Policy Center (2001-2005); member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California (2006-2008); and member of the National Governing Board of Common Cause (2006-2008). In June 2003, he chaired a multinational reconstruction conference in Athens, Greece, at which Iraq’s media laws were drafted.

He is married to Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the lovely and talented mother of his two sons, Neo and Eon, and the former US ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. She is currently California's Lieutenant Governor.

Other Works

  • Spin Wars and Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering

  • Reflections: 1980-82

  • Hope Is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era

  • Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism


Awards and Recognition

  • National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 Award: "When a column teaches you something, you know its creator is worth reading. Kounalakis’s world affairs columns not only offer strong prose and strong opinions, they offer an education. What to do with all the Confederate monuments? Kounalakis suggests doing like former communist countries like Hungary have done. Make a Memento Park—a museum and grounds to display them all. Interesting idea with a history lesson thrown in. His other two entries are just as thought provoking. Why was there no outpouring of world aid after Hurricane Harvey as there was after Katrina? Kounalakis has his theory. And the challenges of devising an election process for Russia’s Putin? Voter apathy is one. For as Kounalakis says “who wants to vote for a guy who’s already won?” Well-done Markos Kounalakis."