By Tom Deignan
Amidst the carnage and chaos of this week’s rally-turned-riot in Washington D.C., one Irishman is earning high marks for his work on the ground – Kerry native and CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan.
The New York Times reported that “as the 6:00 PM curfew (on January 6) approached and the authorities moved the mob away from the Capitol, some in the crowd hurled epithets at the CNN correspondent on the ground, Donie O’Sullivan.”
O’Sullivan himself told viewers: “We’re hearing some vile language being directed at members of the media.”
But O’Sullivan refused to back down, despite the obvious sense of danger and chaos that pervaded the air in Washington, where protesters – after hearing a provocative speech by Donald Trump – proceeded to storm the Capitol building, forcing elected representatives to flee.
At least five people were reportedly killed and dozens more injured in the chaotic day, that has since led to multiple cabinet-level resignations as well as calls for President Donald Trump’s resignation or impeachment.
O’Sullivan was applauded by the Irish Sun for “brav(ing) the crowds to cover the chaos for U.S. network CNN, leaving viewers back home in Ireland on the edge of their seats.”
Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain was ahead of the curve. Watching as the chaotic day began to unfold, Ó Briain posted a message to social media: “CNN just introduced a reporter called Donie O’Sullivan and fair dues, he sounds exactly like you’d hope.”
Once the protests turned ugly, #Donie began trending on Twitter in Ireland, with playful comments circulating that fellow CNN reporter and Irish American John King – long a favorite in Ireland – had been displaced by O’Sullivan.
King even chimed in with praise, dubbing O’Sullivan’s work “awesome.”
On Twitter, O’Sullivan – a U.S. citizen who hails from Cahersiveen, Kerry – acknowledged all of the sudden attention, saying he was “Overwhelmed by all the love from Ireland tonight.” He was also slated to appear on Ireland’s highly-rated “Late, Late Show” on Friday evening.
Prior to reporting for CNN, O’Sullivan worked for a social media company called Storyful, in New York and Dublin. He earned a master’s degree in political science from Queen’s University Belfast. O’Sullivan’s beat at CNN is described by the network as “the intersection of technology and politics.” He is also a member of the CNN Business team and works regularly with CNN’s investigative unit “tracking and identifying online disinformation campaigns targeting the American electorate.”
The network also highlighted O’Sullivan’s role on a team “that uncovered several major Russian government-linked social media campaigns targeting Americans in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His work was later used by congress investigators and others examining the extent of Russian meddling ahead of the election.”
Then again, as another playful round of social media posts put it, maybe all of this comes easy to O’Sullivan.
Tom Deignan is an author, teacher, and columnist for the Irish Voice and Irish America (tdeignan.blogspot.com).