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." 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. 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. 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.
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. A fixer may freelance, like Judy Smith, a public relations "crisis consultant". 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. Cohen later stated that it was his "duty to cover up [Trump]'s dirty deeds".
Sports match fixer
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. 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. 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.
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.
In popular culture
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."
Other notable examples in popular culture
- "Shoulders" from the comic strip Dick Tracy
- Jean Reno as Victor in the 1990 film La Femme Nikita
- Harvey Keitel as Victor in the 1993 film Point of No Return
- Harvey Keitel as "Mr. Wolf" in Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction
- Jean Reno as Léon Montana in the 1994 film Léon: The Professional
- Cleaners, a group of contract killers in the 2003 video game Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
- George Clooney in the titular role of the 2007 film Michael Clayton
- Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut in the 2008–2013 TV series Breaking Bad and its 2015–present prequel, Better Call Saul
- Paige Turco as Zoe Morgan in the 2011–2016 TV series Person of Interest
- Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in the 2012–2018 TV series Scandal
- James Frain as Ferdinand Chevalier in the 2013–2017 TV series Orphan Black
- Liev Schreiber in the title role of Showtime's 2013–present TV series Ray Donovan
- Susan Blommaert as "Mr. Kaplan" in the 2013–present TV series The Blacklist
- Nabil Elouahabi as "The Cleaner" in the 2015 film Hyena Road
- Josh Brolin as a character loosely based on Eddie Mannix, who was a real-life fixer for MGM, in the 2016 film Hail, Caesar!
Politics and business
- Michael Cohen
- Roy Cohn
- Konstantin Kilimnik
- Sidney Korshak
- Keith Schiller
- Roger Stone
- Tsûsai Sugawara
- White House Plumbers
- Cleaner (disambiguation)#Arts, entertainment, and media
- Hitman (disambiguation)
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