John DiStaso, a veteran New Hampshire political journalist, is a political reporter at WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H. and has been covering New Hampshire politics for more than 35 years.
He is the former editor of NH Journal, an online web and news site founded by local Republican activists. He won national attention as during a long career as a political reporter for the Union Leader, a daily published in Manchester, New Hampshire. DiStaso left the Union Leader in April 2014 after 34 years.
DiStaso was born in New Jersey and moved to New Hampshire with his wife in 1979. There he began his career with the Union Leader as a correspondent before becoming a staff reporter in the early 1980s.
Beginning in 1982, DiStaso wrote the newspaper's most influential political column, "The Granite Status."
He left the Union Leader and joined NH Journal on April 3, 2014.
As a recognized expert on New Hampshire politics, DiStaso has been regularly been part of network coverage of the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary. He was one of the moderators for the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates debate held on January 22, 2004, in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Most recently, before the 2012 primary, DiStaso was a panelist in debates produced by CNN and NBC.
DiStaso is credited with coining the phrase "Republican in Name Only" or RINO in 1992. DiStaso was described as the "dean of the New Hampshire press corps" by greenmountainpolitics.blogspot.com.
DiStaso was accused of Republican bias in one Columbia Journalism Review article. The criticism came from a long interview with George W. Bush presidential adviser Karl Rove. Zachary Roth (currently an MSNBC Digital reporter) wrote this:
"As Rove no doubt expected, DiStaso -- who was singled out by Campaign Desk back in January for distorting a quote by Democratic candidate Wesley Clark during a televised debate -- dutifully transcribed Rove's words and presented them as a full news story, under the title, 'Presidential Adviser Defends Decision to Liberate Iraq.'"