Fixer (person)

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A fixer is a person who carries out assignments for someone else or who is good at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage the term is neutral, meaning "the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done."[1] In journalism, a fixer is a local person who expedites the work of a correspondent working in a foreign country. In American usage, to describe a person as a fixer implies that their methods may be of questionable legality.[2] A fixer who disposes of bodies or other evidence of crime is often called a cleaner. In sports, a fixer is someone who makes (usually illegal) arrangements to fix, i.e., manipulate or pre-arrange, the outcome of a sporting contest.


Fixers may primarily use legal means, such as lawsuits and payoffs, to accomplish their ends, or they may carry out unlawful activities. The White House Plumbers have been described as fixers for Richard Nixon; their methods included break-ins and burglary.[3] Fixers who specialize in disposing of evidence or bodies are called "cleaners", like the character of Victor "The Cleaner" in the film Nikita, or the fictional Jonathan Quinn, subject of the novel The Cleaner.[4]

In Britain, a fixer is a commercial consultant for business improvement, whereas in an American context a fixer is often an associate of a powerful person who carries out difficult, undercover, or stealth actions, or extricates a client out of personal or legal trouble.[1][5] A fixer may freelance, like Judy Smith, a public relations "crisis consultant".[6] More commonly a fixer works for a single employer, under a title such as "attorney" or "bodyguard", which does not typically describe the kinds of services that they provide. For example, Michael Cohen was officially Donald Trump's personal attorney, but press accounts commonly describe him as Trump's fixer.[7][8] Cohen later stated that it was his "duty to cover up [Trump]'s dirty deeds".[9]

Sports match fixer[edit]

In sport, when a match fixer arranges a preordained outcome of a sporting or athletic contest, the motivation is often gambling, and the fixer is often employed by organized crime. In the Black Sox Scandal, for instance, players became involved with a gambling syndicate and agreed to lose the 1919 World Series in exchange for payoffs.[10] In another example, in 1975, Boston Winter Hill Gang mobster Anthony "Fat Tony" Ciulla was identified as the fixer who routinely bribed jockeys to throw horse races.[11][12] Other insiders may also be fixers, as in the case of veterinarian Mark Gerard, who, in September 1978, was convicted of fraud for "masterminding a horse-racing scandal that involved switching two thoroughbreds" so that he could cash in on a long-shot bet.[11]

Journalism aide[edit]

In journalism, a fixer is someone, often a local journalist, hired by a foreign correspondent or a media company to help arrange a story. Fixers will most often act as a translator and guide, and will help to arrange local interviews that the correspondent would not otherwise have access to. They help to collect information for the story and sometimes play a crucial role in the final outcome. Fixers are rarely credited, and often put themselves in danger, especially in regimes where they might face consequences from an oppressive government for exposing iniquities the state may want to censor.[13][14]

In popular culture[edit]

Numerous films and several songs have been named The Fixer, and, as a genre, illustrate the different meanings of the term. Most commonly, they refer to the kind of person who carries out illicit activities on behalf of someone else. For example, the 2008 British television series The Fixer is about "a renegade group acting outside the law to bring order to the spiraling criminal activity in the country."[15]

A BBC Two documentary Alex Polizzi: The Fixer features a fixer in the benign British sense – a consultant who helps to turn around failing businesses.[16]

The 2016 Romanian drama The Fixer and the 2009 documentary Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi are each about journalistic fixers.[17]

Other notable examples in popular culture[edit]

Notable fixers[edit]


Entertainment industry[edit]

Organized crime[edit]

Politics and business[edit]

Public relations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Definition of 'fixer'". Collins Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Definition of fixer in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  3. ^ Garment, Suzanne (April 13, 2018). "Cohen Makes Nixon's Fixers Look Like Amateurs". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Battles, Brett (2007). The Cleaner. Random House. ISBN 978-0-440-24370-0.
  5. ^ "fixer, noun". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  6. ^ McDowell, Jeanne Dorin (April 24, 2012). "Real 'fixer' behind 'Scandal' steps into spotlight". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Durkin, Erin (December 12, 2018). "From fixer to inmate: Michael Cohen reckons with his 'blind loyalty' to Trump". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  8. ^ Stracqualursi, Veronica (December 14, 2018). "Michael Cohen says Donald Trump knew hush payments were wrong". CNN. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  9. ^ "Cohen: My duty to cover up Trump's dirty deeds". CNN. December 12, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  10. ^ Linder, Douglas (2010). "The Black Sox Trial: An Account". University of Missouri, Kansas City. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Swenson, John (December 25, 2013). "The Sport of Kings Is Full of Scum". Vice Media. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Greatest Race-Fixer Of Them All", by Stuart Marques, The New York Sun, January 17, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ Clore, Kathlyn (February 4, 2009). "10 things journalists should know about fixers: Covering minorities". European Journalism Centre. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  14. ^ "In Journalism, what is a fixer?". WiseGeek. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  15. ^ "The Fixer (2008)". Kent Film Office. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  16. ^ Cumming, Ed (January 31, 2012). "Alex Polizzi: the Fixer, BBC Two, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  17. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (March 9, 2010). "Movie Review – 'Fixer – The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi' – Ian Olds Documents an Interpreter's Fate in Afghanistan". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2011.