Russ Baker

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Russ Baker lecturing in Dallas in 2013

Russell Warren "Russ" Baker is an American author, publisher and investigative journalist. Baker is the editor-in-chief and founder of the nonprofit news organization WhoWhatWhy. Baker has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and The Village Voice.[1][2][3]

Baker is the author of the 2008 book Family of Secrets, which raises "uncomfortable questions" about members of the Bush Family and their careers and relationships outside of politics,[2] and presents evidence of connections between President George H.W. Bush and individuals involved with the Watergate scandal and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[4]


After graduation from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, Baker worked as a metro reporter with Newsday in New York City.[1][5] While traveling abroad, he reported on tribal genocide in Burundi for a Dutch paper and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the fall of the Berlin Wall for CBS Radio and The Christian Science Monitor, and the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.[1][6]

In 1989, he became a New York correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. He also wrote for the Village Voice in New York City, producing cover stories on corruption in the police union[7] and the use of humanitarian international relief as cover for covert CIA operations.[8][9] His report on the efforts of the Church of Scientology to recruit Michael Jackson aired on A Current Affair.[5] He reported for George magazine on conflict between Scientology and the German government.[10] He wrote a story about Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana, a leading opponent of President Bill Clinton, for Salon[11] and profiled Ira Einhorn, the Unicorn Killer, for Esquire.[12]

In 2002, he received a U.S. government grant to travel to Belgrade, Serbia, to train journalists in investigative reporting. In Belgrade, Baker wrote an article about the longtime fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.[13] He has written articles critical of New York Times reporter Judith Miller.[14] In 2004, he wrote articles critical of the George W. Bush and his administration, examining Bush's military record.[15][16]

Baker received the 2005 Deadline Club award for his exclusive on George W. Bush's military record.[17]

In March 2010, he appeared before the "Treason in America Conference," a gathering of Sept. 11 truthers. Baker said the 9/11 commission had “no credibility,” and "sounded open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job."[5] In 2014, he addressed a conference of the Assassination Archives and Research Center on the "role of the Warren Commission on the cover-up."[18] He has appeared frequently on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, hosted by George Noory.[19]


Baker is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online website WhoWhatWhy, which specializes in "forensic journalism" and according to Baker, "embodies a form of investigative reporting that is rigorous, relentless and scientific."[20] The news site frequently highlights deep politics, which Baker describes as "a vast, secret nexus of power and money that... the mainstream media dare not reveal because they are entwined in that same nexus."[1][21]

Articles and reports from WhoWhatWhy have often been picked up by The Huffington Post,[22] Business Insider[3] and Alternet.[23]

Family of Secrets[edit]

Baker's 2008 book Family of Secrets outlines historical connections of members of the Bush political dynasty, including Prescott Bush, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush, to individuals in the Central Intelligence Agency, military-industrial complex and global financial system.[1][18][24][2]

In Family of Secrets, Baker asserts that George H. W. Bush was linked to the Watergate scandal and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[5] Lev Grossman of Time magazine said that Baker "connects the dots between the Bushes and Watergate, which he far-fetchedly describes not as a ham-handed act of political espionage but as a carefully orchestrated farce designed to take down President Richard Nixon."[4]

Family of Secrets contends that the first President Bush became an intelligence agent in his teenage years and was later at the center of a plot to assassinate Kennedy that included his father, Prescott Bush, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, CIA Director Allen Dulles, Cuban and Russian exiles and emigrants, and various Texas oilmen.[24] It asserts that Bob Woodward of The Washington Post was an intelligence agent who conspired with John Dean to remove President Richard Nixon from office for opposing the oil depletion allowance.[24]

The book received scathing reviews.[5] Writing in the Los Angeles Times, media critic Tim Rutten called the book a "dispiriting tome" that was an example of "paranoid literature." He said that Baker "recklessly impugns, in the most disgusting possible way, the reputations not simply of men and women now dead, but of the living," Rutten said that though George H.W. Bush was not likely to sue for libel, using a "tissue of innuendo, illogical inference, circumstance and guilt by tenuous association -- as Baker does in this book -- to indict rhetorically anyone, let alone a former chief executive, of an infamous murder is a reprehensible calumny."[24]

Journalistic approach[edit]

Baker lecturing at the Porcupine Freedom Festival in 2015 on "American Deep Power Structures"

In a January 2015 profile, Boston magazine said that over the past decade, "Baker has abandoned the mainstream media and become a key player on the fringe, walking that murky line between conventional investigative journalist and wild-eyed conspiracy theorist." Baker has raised questions about the Boston Marathon bombings, and "is not willing to rule out the possibility that the bombings were a false-flag operation conducted or permitted by elements of the American government in order to justify the Homeland Security complex.” He argues that FBI recruited the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an agent or informant, which the FBI has categorically denied.[5][25]

Boston said "it would be a lot easier to dismiss Baker as a nut and move on if it weren’t for his three decades of award-winning investigative-reporting experience."[5]

Baker says he focuses on "deep politics" and engages in "forensic journalism" in which he digs deeper into stories than the mainstream media. Journalist Bill Moyers calls him an “indefatigable researcher from whom I could learn something about a subject that I hadn’t known. A Columbia Journalism Review profile observed that his critics reject his view that mainstream journalism fails to dig, say that "reporters are warned not to go farther than the evidence warrants, and they say that what Baker sees as audacity is just a cover for sloppy reporting."[1]

Rutten said that Baker once may have been a serious and talented journalist but became “mesmerized by the idea of secrets and the Great Seduction. It causes you to lose your perspective and balance.” [1]

Baker has been on the adjunct faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism[26] and was a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review.[27] He has appeared on C-SPAN,[28] PBS affiliate stations,[29] on RT,[30] and on radio stations.[1][26][31] He has received awards from the New York[16] chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Personal life[edit]

Baker grew up in Venice, California, and graduated from UCLA with a major in political science. He has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia Journalism School.[1]

Baker has declined to disclose his age, marital status, names of family members, or "anything that would make him more vulnerable to covert surveillance, intimidation, or worse."[5] He also declines to state where he lives or works because he does “sensitive investigative work” and doesn't want people showing up at his door.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gabler, Neal (March 1, 2016). "The world according to Russ Baker". Columbia Journalism Review. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Malanowski, Jamie (January 11, 2009). "Behind Every Rock, a Bush". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "WhoWhatWhy". Business Insider. November 21, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Family of Secrets", review by Lev Grossman, Time Magazine, December 17, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Schreckinger, Ben (January 2015). "Boston Isn't Strong. Boston Is Scared Sh*tless". Boston Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  6. ^ Baker, Russ (May 6, 2002). "I'm The Other Guy". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Baker, Russ (December 7, 1993). "The rogue police union". Village Voice. New York, NY.
  8. ^ Baker, Russ (September 10, 1991). "CIA: Out of control". Investigative Reporters & Editors. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  9. ^ Baker, Russ (September 10, 1991). "CIA: Out of control". Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  10. ^ Baker, Russ (April 1997), "The clash of the titans", George Magazine, retrieved July 5, 2016
  11. ^ Baker, Russ (December 22, 1998). "Portrait of a political "pit bull"". Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  12. ^ A touch of Eden”, by Russ Baker, Esquire, 1 December 1999, 12:00 AM.
  13. ^ Catch Me if You Can: If snaring Saddam was so important, why is Radovan Karadzic allowed to remain free?”, by Russ Baker, Washington Monthly, January/February 2004.
  14. ^ Baker, Russ (June 23, 2003), ""Scoops" and Truth at the Times", The Nation, retrieved July 5, 2016
  15. ^ Baker, Russ (September 29, 2004), "Fear of flying", The Nation, retrieved July 5, 2016
  16. ^ a b "Awards Winners and Finalists Presented in 2005". Deadline Club, the NYC Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. May 9, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "Russ Baker". Business Insider. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "VIDEO: Russ Baker: The Role of the Warren Commission Staff in the Cover-up – Family of Secrets". Family of Secrets. May 2, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  19. ^ "Russ Baker – Guests". Coast to Coast AM. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  20. ^ "WhoWhatWhy". Business Insider. November 21, 2012.
  21. ^ Baker, Russ. "Our story". The Real News Project. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  22. ^ "Contributor Russ Baker". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  23. ^ "Russ Baker –". AlterNet. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  24. ^ a b c d Rutten, Tim (January 7, 2009). "'Family of Secrets' by Russ Baker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  25. ^ "Behind the News/ Numerology & 2014". Coast to Coast with George Noory. May 21, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Arena Profile: Russ Baker". Politico. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  27. ^ Ladhani, Caroline (November 15, 2001). "Columbia Journalism Review Marks 40th Anniversary with Special Issue". Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia University/Columbia Journalism School. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  28. ^ Baker, Russ (March 24, 2009). "Presentation at Book People in Austin, TX". C-SPAN Book TV. C-SPAN. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  29. ^ Baker, Russ (November 11, 2009). "Greater Boston with Emily Rooney". WGBH (archived). WGBH, Boston. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  30. ^ Baker, Russ (May 7, 2014). "Russ Baker on government Internet censorship". Going Underground (archived). RT. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  31. ^ Baker, Russ (July 8, 2009). "Russ Baker on the Ron Reagan radio show (Part 1)". Air America network. Retrieved July 11, 2016. (the first of four segments).

External links[edit]