The press. They can make or break Presidents — and just about anybody else in Washington, the seat of power in American politics. But who are the Irish power-brokers in the American media on the cusp of a new decade? For the first time, we name them.
1. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd — Still the queen of the stiletto in the ribs with a smile on her face. Simply the best columnist in the business.
2. Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs — The most important Southern Irishman since Bill Clinton, and just as smooth. Credited with doing a super job with the fractious Washington press corps.
3. NBC anchor Brian Williams — Took over almost seamlessly from Tom Brokaw in contrast to the fun and games at other networks. Irish Catholic background from New Jersey.
4. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly — For Fox, he's the gift that keeps on giving. The relentless O'Reilly is watching Glenn Beck in his rear-view mirror, but he is still the king of talk TV.
5. Fox News' Sean Hannity — Perhaps edging toward a political career, but lacks O'Reilly's softer edge and comes across as too strident. But still, a huge player in cable news.
6. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews — Took a look at politics but kept himself sane by staying where he is. Still the best at hard-nose interviews despite his sometimes too-obvious Obama fetish.
7. NBC political reporter Kelly O'Donnell — One of the best political reporters around. A woman to reckon with when the story is down to the wire.
8. Commentator Pat Buchanan — Slipping down the list, but still a force.
9. MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell — In an increasingly important political network, she has the smarts to go all the way.
10. NBC contributor Lawrence O'Donnell — Clearly, NBC is the "O'Donnell Network." Smart, hard-hitting contributor who adds greatly to the network's political coverage.