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John DiStaso, WMUR’s Ace Political Reporter, Has Died

John DiStaso, who was a political reporter at WMUR Manchester
(Image credit: WMUR)

John DiStaso, influential political reporter at WMUR Manchester (New Hampshire), died April 21 at age 68. He suffered from pancreatic cancer. 

He joined WMUR, part of Hearst Television, in 2015 after working as news editor at the New Hampshire Journal. Before that, he was lead political reporter at the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he spent 30-plus years.

With New Hampshire holding its presidential primaries early in the campaign season, those seeking the White House often sought out DiStaso for an interview. 

“For the last 40 years, anyone wanting to be president of the United States would have to face John DiStaso first,” said WMUR political director Adam Sexton.

He covered 11 presidential campaigns and was often a panelist on primary debates airing nationwide.

DiStaso was born in Paterson, New Jersey, graduated from Villanova and got a master’s in communications at William Paterson College in New Jersey. 

DiStaso began his New Hampshire journalism career as the seacoast-area correspondent for the Union Leader, reported the New York Times, which said he was among the first to report that Donald Trump was running for president in 2015. He is also credited with hatching the term RINO, Republican in Name Only, using it first in 1992, according to the NY Times.  

He was married to Diane DiStaso. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.