Jon Favreau (speechwriter)

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Jon Favreau
Favreau in March 2017
White House Director of Speechwriting
In office
January 20, 2009 – March 1, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byMarc Thiessen
Succeeded byCody Keenan
Personal details
Jonathan Edward Favreau

(1981-06-02) June 2, 1981 (age 42)
Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Emily Black Favreau
(m. 2017)
EducationCollege of the Holy Cross (BA)

Jonathan Edward Favreau[1] (/ˈfævr/; born June 2, 1981)[2] is an American political commentator, podcaster, and the former director of speechwriting for President Barack Obama.[3][4][5]

Favreau attended the College of the Holy Cross, where he participated in community and civic programs, graduating as valedictorian.[6] After graduation, he went to work for the John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004, working to collect talk radio news for the campaign and was promoted to the role of Deputy Speechwriter.[7] Favreau first met Barack Obama, then a state senator from Illinois, while working on the Kerry campaign.

In 2005, Obama's communications director Robert Gibbs recommended Favreau to Obama as a speechwriter.[8] Favreau was hired as Obama's speechwriter shortly after Obama's election to the United States Senate. Obama and Favreau grew close, and Obama referred to him as his "mind reader". He went on the campaign trail with Obama during his successful presidential election campaign. In 2009, he was named to the White House staff as Director of Speechwriting.[9]

In January 2017, he co-founded liberal media company Crooked Media with fellow former Obama staffers Tommy Vietor and Jon Lovett, and began co-hosting the political podcast Pod Save America with Vietor, Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Favreau was born at Winchester Hospital and raised in nearby North Reading, Massachusetts,[2][11] the son of Lillian (née DeMarkis), a schoolteacher, and Mark Favreau. His father is of French Canadian descent and his mother is of Greek descent.[12] His grandfather, Robert Favreau, was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and described by Favreau as a "New England Republican."[13][14] Favreau graduated from the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross in 2003 as his class's valedictorian,[15][16] with a degree in political science.[17]

At Holy Cross, he was treasurer and debate committee chairman for the College Democrats, and studied classical piano.[15] From 1999 to 2000, he served on the Welfare Solidarity Project, eventually becoming its director. In 2001, Favreau worked with Habitat for Humanity and a University of Massachusetts Amherst program to bring visitors to cancer patients.

In 2002, he became head of an initiative to help unemployed individuals improve their résumés and interview skills. He also earned a variety of honors in college, including the Vanicelli Award; being named the 2001 Charles A. Dana Scholar; memberships in the Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, the College Honors Program, the Sociology Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Delta, and was awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2002.[15] He was an editor on his college newspaper, and during summers in college, he earned extra income selling newspapers as a telemarketer, while also interning in John Kerry's offices.[18]

Kerry campaign[edit]

He joined Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign soon after graduation from the College of the Holy Cross.[3] While working for the Kerry campaign, his job was to assemble audio clips of talk radio programs for the Kerry camp to review for the next day. When the Kerry campaign began to falter at one point, they found themselves without a speechwriter, and Favreau was promoted to the role of deputy speechwriter. Following Kerry's defeat, Favreau became dispirited with politics, and was uncertain if he would do such work again.[16] Favreau first met Obama (then an Illinois State Senator running for the U.S. Senate), while still working for Kerry, backstage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention as Obama was rehearsing his keynote address. Favreau, then 23 years old, interrupted Obama's rehearsal, advising the soon-to-be-elected Senator that a rewrite was needed because Kerry wanted to use one of the lines.[18]

Obama campaign[edit]

President Barack Obama meets with Favreau, in the Oval Office to review a speech on April 14, 2009.
Obama works with Favreau on the President's Normandy speech aboard Air Force One en route to Paris on June 5, 2009.
Obama talks with Favreau, David Plouffe, and Jon Lovett on February 6, 2011.

Obama communications aide Robert Gibbs, who had worked for Kerry's campaign, recommended Favreau to Obama as an excellent writer, and in 2005 he began working for Barack Obama in his U.S. Senate office before joining his presidential campaign as chief speechwriter in 2006.[19] His interview with Obama was on the Senator's first day. Uninterested in Favreau's résumé, Obama instead questioned Favreau on what motivated him to work in politics and his theory of writing.[16] He described this theory to Obama as, "A speech can broaden the circle of people who care about this stuff. How do you say to the average person that's been hurting: 'I hear you, I'm there?' Even though you've been so disappointed and cynical about politics in the past, and with good reason, we can move in the right direction. Just give me a chance."[20]

Favreau led a speechwriting team for the campaign that included Ben Rhodes and Cody Keenan.[18] For his work with Obama in the campaign, he would wake as early as 5 a.m., and routinely stayed up until 3 a.m. working on speeches.[18] His leadership style among other Obama speechwriters was very informal. They would often meet in a small conference room, discussing their work late into the evening over takeout food. According to Rhodes, Favreau did not drive structured meetings with agendas. "If he had, we probably would have laughed at him," Rhodes said. Favreau was planning to hire more speechwriters to assist him, but conceded he was unsure of how to manage them. According to him, "My biggest strength isn't the organization thing."[20]

He has likened his position to "Ted Williams' batting coach", because of Obama's celebrated abilities as a speaker and writer. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said of Favreau, "Barack trusts him... And Barack doesn't trust too many folks with that—the notion of surrendering that much authority over his own words."[18] In Obama's own words, Favreau was his "mind reader".[21] He and Obama share a fierce sports rivalry between the Boston Red Sox, favored by Favreau, and the Chicago White Sox, favored by Obama.[2] When the White Sox defeated the Red Sox 3–0 in the 2005 American League playoffs, Obama swept off Favreau's desk with a small broom.[18] During the campaigns, he was obsessed with election tracking polls, jokingly referring to them as his "daily crack". At points during the campaign, he felt overwhelmed by his responsibilities and would turn to Axelrod and his friends for advice.[20]

Favreau has declared that the speeches of Robert F. Kennedy and Michael Gerson have influenced his work,[22] and has expressed admiration for Peggy Noonan's speechwriting, citing a talk given by Ronald Reagan at Pointe du Hoc as his favorite Noonan speech. Gerson also admires Favreau's work, and sought him out at an Obama New Hampshire campaign rally to speak with the younger speechwriter.[23] Favreau was the primary writer of Obama's inauguration address of January 2009. The Guardian describes the process as follows:

"The inaugural speech has shuttled between them [Obama and Favreau] four or five times, following an initial hour-long meeting in which the President-elect spoke about his vision for the address, and Favreau took notes on his computer. Favreau then went away and spent weeks on research. His team interviewed historians and speechwriters, studied periods of crisis, and listened to past inaugural orations. When ready, he took up residence in a Starbucks in Washington and wrote the first draft."[21]

White House Director of Speechwriting (2009-2013)[edit]

When President Obama assumed office in 2009, Favreau was appointed Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting.[3] He became the second-youngest chief White House speechwriter on record, after James Fallows.[19] His salary was $172,200 a year.[24]

Favreau has said his work with Obama will be his final job in the realm of politics, saying, "Anything else would be anticlimactic."[25] In regard to his post-political future, he said, "Maybe I'll write a screenplay, or maybe a fiction book based loosely on what all of this was like. You had a bunch of kids working on this campaign together, and it was such a mix of the serious and momentous and just the silly ways that we are. For people in my generation, it was an unbelievable way to grow up."[20]

After the White House[edit]

In March 2013, Favreau left the White House, along with Tommy Vietor, to pursue a career in private sector consulting and screenwriting.[26][22] Together, they founded the communications firm Fenway Strategies. From 2013 to 2016, Favreau wrote sporadically for the Daily Beast.[27] In 2016, after the November presidential election was won by Donald Trump, Favreau, Vietor and Jon Lovett founded Crooked Media. Favreau co-hosts Crooked's premier political podcast Pod Save America with Dan Pfeiffer, Vietor and Lovett. In the wake of the new Republican healthcare bill, the AHCA, he coined the term "Wealthcare".

He currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Let America Vote, a voting rights organization founded by fellow Crooked Media host Jason Kander.[28]


Favreau was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine in 2009.[29] In the same year he was ranked 33rd in the GQ "50 Most Powerful in D.C." and featured in the Vanity Fair "Next Establishment" list.[30][31] Favreau was one of several Obama administration members in the 2009 "World's Most Beautiful People" issue of People magazine.[32] Executive Producer for the podcast This Land, and was nominated for a 2021 Peabody Award.


On December 5, 2008, a picture of Favreau grabbing the breast of a cardboard cut-out of then-Senator Hillary Clinton was posted on Facebook.[33] Clinton had recently been announced as Obama's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State.[34] Favreau called Senator Clinton's staff to offer an apology. The senator's office responded by joking that "Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application."[35][36][22]

In June 2010, the website FamousDC obtained a picture of Favreau along with Assistant White House Press Secretary Tommy Vietor, playing beer pong after taking off their shirts at a restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[37] This event attracted criticism from the press because of its timing during the height of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.[38][39][40]

Personal life[edit]

He is the older brother of Andy Favreau, a professional TV and movie actor.[41] On May 23, 2014, Favreau was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree by his alma mater, Holy Cross, where he also gave the commencement address.[42] On June 17, 2017, Favreau married Emily Black, daughter of federal Judge Timothy Black, at her family's vacation home in Biddeford Pool, Maine.[43] Their son, Charlie, was born in August 2020.[44][45] Jon and his wife have had their second son, Teddy, in December 2023.[46]


  1. ^ Caywood, Thomas (January 27, 2008). "Mass. gift to Obama; HC valedictorian Favreau is top speechwriter". The Free Library. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Parker, Ashley (December 5, 2008). "The New Team – Jonathan Favreau". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "President-Elect Barack Obama names two new White House staff members". The Office of the President-Elect. Archived from the original on November 26, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  4. ^ d'Ancona, Matthew (December 6, 2012). "Jon Favreau has the world's best job". GQ. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  5. ^ Jaffe, Greg (July 24, 2016). "Washington Post: Which Obama speech is one for the history books?". Concord Monitor. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
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  8. ^ Glenn, Cheryl (2011). The Harbrace Guide to Writing, Concise. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. ISBN 9780495913993.
  9. ^ "The Complete Obama Speech Archive". Archived from the original on May 18, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  10. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (March 20, 2017). "Opposition and a Shave: Former Obama Aides Counter Trump". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Jon Favreau [@jonfavs] (December 28, 2017). "Born in Winchester hospital, grew up in NR" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Marchese, John (December 28, 2009). "Obama's Ghost – Jon Favreau – Obama's Speechwriter". Boston Magazine. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  13. ^ "Obama speechwriter has deep New Hampshire roots". New Hampshire Union Leader. January 24, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  14. ^ Johnson, Eric (November 12, 2016). "Full transcript: 'Keepin' It 1600' co-host Jon Favreau on Recode Media". Vox. Retrieved May 18, 2019. My grandfather was a Republican state rep in New Hampshire way back in the day.
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  16. ^ a b c Wolffe, Richard (January 6, 2008). "In His Candidate's Voice". Newsweek. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  17. ^ Walsh, Kenneth T. (February 23, 2009). "Jon Favreau: Obama's Mind Reader Prepares for Congressional Address". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
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  22. ^ a b c Walker, Tim (February 6, 2013). "Jon Favreau: From White House to silver screen". The Independent. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  23. ^ Warren, Mark (December 3, 2008). "What Obama's 27-Year-Old Speechwriter Learned From George W. Bush". Esquire. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  24. ^ "2010 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff". The Obama White House. Retrieved September 23, 2010 – via National Archives.
  25. ^ Philp, Catherine (January 19, 2009). "Profile: Barack Obama's speechwriter Jon Favreau". The Times. London. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  26. ^ Jan, Tracy (March 3, 2013). "Leaving West Wing to pursue Hollywood dream". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  27. ^ "Jon Favreau profile". The Daily Beast. April 22, 2016.
  28. ^ "Advisors". Let America Vote. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "The 2009 TIME 100 – Scientists & Thinkers: Jon Favreau". Time. April 30, 2009. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  30. ^ Draper, Robert; Naddaf, Raha; Goldstein, Sarah; Hylton, Wil S.; Kirby, Mark; Veis, Greg; Newmyer, Tory (October 12, 2009). "The 50 Most Powerful in D.C." GQ. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  31. ^ Pressman, Matt; Bitici, Val; Gaffney, Adrienne (October 8, 2009). "The Next Establishment 2009". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  32. ^ "100 Most Beautiful: Barack's Beauties". People. May 11, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  33. ^ "Obama speechwriter Favreau learns the perils of Facebook". CNN. December 6, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  34. ^ Schor, Elana (December 1, 2008). "Barack Obama nominates Hillary Clinton to the state department – as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  35. ^ Schlesinger, Robert (December 12, 2008). "Barack Obama Speechwriter Jon Favreau, the Hillary Clinton "Grope" and Scenes From the Surveillance Republic". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  36. ^ Brown, Campbell (December 5, 2008). "Commentary: Clinton changes her tune on sexism". CNN. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  37. ^ Nolongerfamous (June 7, 2010). "WHITE HOUSE GONE WILD: Shirtless Favreau And Vietor's Sunday/Funday Beer Pong Match". Famous DC. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  38. ^ Harris, John; Cogan, Marin (June 10, 2010). "Are Obama staffers overexposed?". Politico. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  39. ^ "A straight shooter, who isn't afraid to occasionally reveal the White House's fratty side". MSNBC. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  40. ^ Gibson, John (June 9, 2010). "White House Parties As Gulf Coast Suffers". New York Post. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  41. ^ Davis, Noah (December 1, 2017). "Actor Andy Favreau on His Way-Famous Brother and New Show with Mindy Kaling". Best Life. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  42. ^ "2014 Commencement Address - Jon Favreau". College of the Holy Cross. Archived from the original on May 27, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  43. ^ Price Olsen, Anna (July 4, 2017). "Jon Favreau's Summer Wedding in Maine". Brides. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  44. ^ Emily Favreau [@ebfavs] (March 14, 2020). "Social distancing for FOUR in our house! Baby boy Favs coming August 2020! 💙". Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2022 – via Instagram.
  45. ^ Jon Favreau [@jonfavs] (July 23, 2020). "Few Notes:" (Tweet). Retrieved November 7, 2022 – via Twitter.
  46. ^ Pod Save America (August 17, 2023). Jen Psaki Reacts to Donald Trump's New Indictment and Ron DeSantis' Debate Strategy. YouTube.

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