Photo gallery of Irish America's best journalists: CLICK HERE
It’s often said that the Irish are adept story tellers. Little wonder then that the Irish in America have proven themselves to be among the most accomplished journalists in the country.
As the list below indicates, Irish Americans journalists are a fairly diverse bunch. There’s Bill O’Reilly, a conservative who refers to his Irish background a lot. (He once mocked Steven Colbert for pronouncing his name “Col-bear”, which sounds French, rather than the Irish way, “Col-bert.”) Then there are also hardcore lefties, such as Michael Moore. And just like O’Reilly, Moore also refers to his Irish roots whenever he gets the chance.
1. Maureen Dowd
Nicknamed “The Cobra” by George W. Bush, Maureen Dowd has been a star columnist with The New York Times for more than ten years. Her father, Michael, grew up in Fenore, Co. Clare, before immigrating to Washington, where he became a police officer. He would also become a national president of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. Her mother’s family came from Ballinrode, Co. Sligo.
Although a favorite hate figure among conservatives, Dowd has proven herself equally adept at skewering Republicans and Democrats alike.
On John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin for running mate:
"Why do men only pick women as running mates when they need a Hail Mary pass? It’s a little insulting."
On Sarah Palin’s garbled use of language:
"She dangles gerunds, mangles prepositions, randomly exiles nouns and verbs and also — “also” is her favorite vamping word — uses verbs better left as nouns, as in, 'If Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them,” or how she tried to “progress the agenda.'"
On Hillary Clinton:
"It’s impossible to imagine The Terminator, as a former aide calls her, giving up. Unless every circuit is out, she’ll regenerate enough to claw her way out of the grave, crawl through the Rezko Memorial Lawn and up Obama’s wall, hurl her torso into the house and brutally haunt his dreams."
2. Jimmy Breslin
Jimmy Breslin, who was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York, was a legendary New York newspaperman in the traditional sense: hard-drinking, rabble rousing and scrappy. He was a columnist with Newsday for many years, until his retirement in 2004.The author of many novels, he had also published several works of non-fiction, including "The Church that Forgot Christ," about the child abuse scandals that shook the American Catholic Church.
"Rage is the only quality that has kept me, or anybody I ever studied, writing newspaper columns. I can control the rage in my writing, which is what I get paid for. I do not control it when I'm shouting off the written record."
"When you stop drinking, you have to deal with this marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place."
On the presidency:
The office of the President is such a bastardized thing, half royalty and half democracy, that nobody knows whether to genuflect or spit.
3. Pete Hamill
Pete Hamill’s parents emigrated from Belfast to New York in the 1920s, and later, as a journalist he would report on The Troubles in Northern Ireland. When Hamill worked for the New York Post in the 1960s, pre-Rupert Murdoch, it was one of the city’s great liberal papers, and indeed Hamill describes himself as a “liberal Irish-American.” Like Jimmy Breslin, Hamill is also an accomplished novelist.
On his parents' new life in the U.S.:
"Both of them, particularly my mother, were determined never to do to anybody in this country what had been done to them in Northern Island, so bigotry was a worse sin to them than self-pity."
On hearing that Steve Dunleavy, right-wing columnist with the New York Post, had gotten his foot run over by a snowplow:
"I hope it was his writing foot."
On being a journalist:
"Certainly the best newspapermen I know are those most thrilled by the daily pump of city room excitements; they long fondly for a ''good murder''; they pray that assassinations, wars, catastrophes break on their editions. Their personal lives are usually a mess."
On having a Jesuit education:
"They’ve probably created more atheists than communism ever did."
4. Alexander Cockburn
So far on this list, all the Irish-American journalists have been fairly left-leaning: but none can outdo Alexander Cockburn when it comes to their leftiness. Cockburn, the editor of the biweekly political newsletter, Counterpunch, is one of the most famous radical journalists in the US. He grew up in Youghal, Co. Cork, and has lived and worked in the U.S since 1973. He once said that Gerald Ford was the US’s greatest president for having done the least “possible harm.” Like a true Irishman, who’s never held a grudge he couldn’t let go of, Cockburn had a fantastic falling out with his former comrade, Christopher Hitchens, after Hitchens suddenly became a Bush supporter after 9/11.
“What a truly disgusting sack of sh*t Hitchens is.”
5. Bill O’Reilly
In an interview with The Irish Voice, Bill O’Reilly described himself as “a quintessential working class Irish-American Catholic.” Indeed O’Reilly take pride in his Irishness, proclaiming in one of his books, “Whatever I have done or will do in this life, I’m working-class Irish American Bill O’Reilly.” Like many Irish people, he loves a good feud – and he takes more time attacking (or counter-attacking) those in the “liberal media” as he does attacking politicians who don’t share his conservative views.
If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right?"
“I think it is important to look ahead rather than to look back. What good does it do to rehash WMDs? Does that do you any good?”
"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this…What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?"
"All I ask is for powerful people to respond honestly to the questions, and if they can't, explain why."
On having Stephen Colbert on his show:
"I'm really looking forward to speaking to a man who owes his entire career to me!"
Sean Hannity’s show is the second highest rated show in cable news, after Bill O’Reilly’s. His grandparents on his father’s side came from Co. Down, while his maternal grandparents came from Co. Cork. Like O’Reilly, Hannity is a devout Catholic – although Hannity has publicly dissented from the Catholic Church’s view on contraception, and unlike O’Reilly, is pro-death penalty.
On the Democrats:
"I'll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo: every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress."
"Liberals want to paint conservatives as angry white men on the radio. No, we're not. We're happy, normal, law-abiding, taxpaying, wonderful people. They love to play tennis with us on the weekend."
"Iraqis are not going to be bombed by the United States. The United States will use pinpoint accuracy, like we always do."
"They can have the Gay Scouts if they want, if they don’t like the values of the Boy Scouts."
7. Kate O’Beirne
Kate O’Beirne is rather like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, except that she’s a woman, not quite as blustering, and is more nuanced in her views. (I guess that just means that O’Beirne, like Hannity and O’Reilly is right-wing and Irish.) Born Kate Walsh, into an Irish Catholic family in New York, O’Beirne is the Washington editor of the famous right-wing magazine, National Review, she was also a regular feature on CNN’s political program, Capital Gang.
"I have long thought that if high-school boys had invited homely girls to the prom we might have been spared the feminist movement."
"Wanting to see feminists fail came naturally to me."
"The so-called wage gap is the gift that keeps on giving to the modern woman’s movement."
8. Michael Moore
Michael Moore is a kind of left-wing version of Bill O’Reilly: both adopt hectoring, blustering tones, both are equally careless when it comes to accuracy in their journalism, and both are equally unable to take criticism, typically resorting to personal attacks on their critics.
In short, the chances of having a mature, rational discussion with Michael Moore are as unlikely as having one with Bill O’Reilly. Moore, who has said that his family is from originally from Counties Cork, Tipperary and Waterford, has described his parents “as Irish Catholic democrats, basic liberal good people.” And like a couple of people on this list, he is no stranger to a good old feud: with CNN over his movie, Sicko¸ with actor James Woods, the list goes on…..
"These bastards who run our country are a bunch of conniving, thieving, smug pricks who need to be brought down and removed and replaced with a whole new system that we control".
"There's a gullible side to the American people. They can be easily misled. Religion is the best device used to mislead them. People are easily manipulated."
"Having been bumped from Larry King last night for Paris Hilton, I am beginning to take things personally. The priorities in this country are seriously askew."
9. Peggy Noonan
Peggy Noonan is a Wall Street Journal columnist. Her grandfather came from Co. Donegal. Noonan was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and has also worked for George W. Bush. In the last presidential election, she hit the headlines for her devastating – and many would agree, spot on the money – criticism of Sarah Palin.
On the Irish:
The Irish are often nervous about having the appropriate face for the occasion. They have to be happy at weddings, which is a strain, so they get depressed; they have to be sad at funerals, which is easy, so they get happy.
On Sarah Palin:
"She is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy."
And later on Sarah Palin:
"The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives."
The Irish-American host of MSNBC’s hardball has said in an interview with the Irish Echo that he is “three-quarters Irish”, adding that on his mother’s side, there are Irish families -- the Conroys and the Quinlans, and that a grandmother on his father’s side was a Northern Irish Presbyterian, from the seaside town of Portrush, in Co. Antrim.
To give him credit, he isn’t as easy to pigeon hole “conservative” or “liberal” as many of his contemporaries: he was a critic of the Iraq war, of U.S policy towards Israel, but also of Bill Clinton.
On the Iraq war:
"And on the war, I think my numbers would be a lot higher if I were out there beating the drum for this war. In fact, I don't think it, I know it. But I can't be for the war."
"We've always had a dual role in the region - friend of Israel, and honest broker. We've given up the honest broker role completely."
"I have been a voice out there against this bullshit war from the beginning."