Last Monday, Brian O'Donovan stepped outside to find his quiet, leafy neighbourhood, a short walk from the White House, burned and charred. Buildings were vandalised, shops looted.
Seven days after the horrific killing of George Floyd, who died when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nine minutes, the streets of Washington DC had just reopened following the Covid-19 lockdown. But as RTE's Washington correspondent surveyed the scene, construction workers were arriving to board up the shop fronts again and images of American flags tossed on bonfires were on news stands.
And yet it wasn't until O'Donovan's children, Lucy (10) and six-year-old Erin, came to him with questions that he realised just how close the story had come.
"Always with kids, you are afraid," he told the Sunday Independent during a break from covering a story that has dominated bulletins worldwide. "I am afraid when I have a big news story on in the house, because I have to watch CNN and Fox and MSNBC for work. If the girls are in the room, you're conscious they are looking with very young eyes - and you don't want them to be scared.
"They've become very tuned in. There is a danger when you are a journalist, because they are surrounded by it - by you and your work."
The other day, after a drive through the scarred city, Lucy asked her father, "Will they come to people's houses?"
"I said, 'No they won't, they're interested in shops and businesses. If there is looting, it won't be homes. We are fine, you are safe.'"
O'Donovan and his wife, Joanna, had already sat down with the girls to address their fears over Covid-19, but this was something different. "The immediacy of seeing the damage in their own environs struck them," he says.
With the family living in the global epicentre of political power, it is not surprising that the O'Donovan children are more tuned in to the current turmoil than most.
"They would often ask me about Trump. 'What did he do today, Daddy?' You explain it to them and you talk to them about it," he says.
"DC is very political, so when they were in school, they would come home and say, 'Someone said this about the Democrats or the Republicans. A lot of the kids' parents work on Capitol Hill,'" he laughs.
Originally from Cork, O'Donovan did stints at the city's RedFM radio station, TV3 News and RTE News before landing the coveted Washington role in 2018. He also hosts States of Mind, a weekly podcast with RTE journalist Jackie Fox, following the twists and turns of the 2020 race to the White House. Right now he has a "front-row seat in history", and feels "very privileged".
Joanna is also a news junkie - and it was her advice that helped land him his biggest exclusive to date. It was a time when speculation was raging about a possible Irish visit by Donald Trump. After days spent in front of the White House, trying to compete with hordes of journalists jostling to get Trump's attention, Joanna advised him to shout the magic word. With Marine One's blades turning and the commander-in-chief about to board, O'Donovan roared at the top of his lungs: "Doonbeg!"
Trump turned around and O'Donovan seized his moment. "I said, 'Are you are coming to Ireland?'"
"Yes," Trump replied. "I am coming. I am going to Doonbeg. And we will be doing all our meetings from there."
Last week, his days and nights were dominated by the race protests.
You wonder how much difference his newly acquired social-distancing boom pole makes to his safety but, with police across America using smoke canisters, pepper balls and tear gas, and demonstrators are pictured pouring petrol on blazing barricades, it's perhaps not his most pressing concern.
"The spot where I stand to do my live hits for RTE is next to this old building in the park and it has been destroyed and burned out," he says.
Journalists have been attacked by police and protesters - some live on air - and it has led O'Donovan to keep an open line to his wife.
"If something has turned nasty and I know she is watching on CNN and knows I am there, I give her a quick text or call and say 'look, everything is fine'.
He is "constantly on" - spare a thought when you hear him live over your breakfast cereal, reporting on Morning Ireland: he is up at 1am or 2am local time dialling it in.
He says sleep can be "truncated" but doesn't complain - his job gives him a buzz.
He points to the events under each of his predecessors: "Caitriona [Perry] had the rise of Trump, Richard [Downes] had Lehman Brothers, the economic crash and Hurricane Katrina, Carol [Coleman] had 9/11", while Mark Little covered the Clinton era and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
"This is an historic news-making country and you never know what's coming next," he says.
It is no surprise to him that the level of feeling evident in the protests over the death of George Floyd directly followed the global pandemic.
"The African-American population has been disproportionally affected. They tended to work in frontline jobs and were more exposed.
"The economic devastation has meant 40 million people have lost their jobs. I think it is no coincidence the scale of these riots, obviously sparked by George Floyd's death, has come off the back of this desperate pandemic. It has had a huge effect."
But O'Donovan says the racial divide was a problem long before Trump became president.
"It was a problem during the Barack Obama administration, Bush and Clinton. It transcends presidencies," he says.
He reserves judgment on whether Floyd's death will change anything: "I'm sceptical. We have had the Rodney King riots, we have been here many times before, and it hasn't led to the change that you would hope to see."
What he does seem more certain about is Trump's indestructibility: "He has weathered every storm, the Muller report, impeachment, Hollywood tapes, the list goes on and the tactics remain the same - rally the support base, turn on those who criticise you, criticise them, portray yourself as the victim and get your support levels up."
And every time, he says, "it has worked".
"So many have said 'that's him gone, he is toast, dead in the water'."
But you won't hear RTE's man in Washington ruling out a Trump win in November's election: "I am very, very, very slow to write him off."
A tweet from Trump "can dictate the day" but two years into the job, "I still haven't set up the alerts". He may be addicted to the job, but it seems even the self-professed "news nut" needs a bit of head space once in a while.