Russ Baker

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For the aviator, see Russ Baker (pilot). For the satirical writer, see Russell Baker.

Russell Warren "Russ" Baker, is an American investigative journalist. He is the author of a 2008 book, Family of Secrets, that outlines what it claims are connections between President George H.W. Bush and the Watergate scandal and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He is also the founder of WhoWhatWhy, a journalism website.

He has had articles in a variety of publications, including The Village Voice, The Nation and The Christian Science Monitor, but recently has been published mainly on the Internet,[1] to his own website and to AlterNet.[2]

Career[edit]

After graduation from the Columbia Journalism School, Baker worked as a metro reporter with Newsday in New York City.[3][4] 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.[3][5]

In 1989, he became a New York correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. He also wrote for the Village Voice in New York, producing cover stories on corruption in the police union[6] and the use of humanitarian international relief as cover for covert CIA operations.[7][8] His report on the efforts of the Church of Scientology to recruit Michael Jacksonn,[4] aired on A Current Affair. He reported for George magazine on conflict between Scientology and the German government.[9] He wrote a story about Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana, a leading opponent of President Bill Clinton, for Salon[10] and profiled Ira Einhorn, the Unicorn Killer, for Esquire.[11]

In 2002 he received a U.S. government grant to travel to Belgrade, Serbia and train journalists there in investigative reporting. Baker remained and produced an article on the longtime fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.[12] He has written articles critical of New York Times reporter Judith Miller.[13] In 2004, he wrote articles critical of the George W. Bush and his administration, examining Bush's military record.[14][15]

Baker is the founder and editor-in-chief of the news website WhoWhatWhy, which highlights what he describes as "a vast, secret nexus of power and money" ignored by what Baker believes is a complicit mass media.[3] The site, described by Columbia Journalism Review as a "minnow" compared to established news sites, received approximately 600,000 unique visitors in 2015 and receives annual funding of about $400,000, according to Baker.[3] Its Alexa rank was 209,786 as of July 2016.[16] The organization has a staff of about 40, not including volunteers.[3][17]

Baker has been on the adjunct faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism[18] and was a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review.[19] He has appeared on C-SPAN,[20] PBS affiliate stations,[21] on RT,[22] and on radio stations.[3][18][23] He has received awards from the New York[15] and Northern California[citation needed] chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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."[4] In 2014 he addressed a conference of the Assassination Archives and Research Center on the "role of the Warren Commission on the cover-up."[24] He has appeared frequently on Coast to Coast AM, a radio show hosted by George Noory that deals with the paranormal and conspiracy theories.[25]

'Family of Secrets'[edit]

Main article: Family of Secrets

In his 2008 book Family of Secrets, Baker outlines alleged historic connections between the Bush family with the Central Intelligence Agency, and asserts that President George H.W. Bush was linked to the Watergate scandal and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[4] 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.[26]

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.[1] 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.[1]

The book received scathing reviews.[4] 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."[1]

Journalistic approach[edit]

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 is the FBI has categorically denied.[4][27]

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."[4]

Baker says he focuses on "deep politics" and engages in "forensic journalism" in which he digs deeper into stories than 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."[3]

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.” [3]

Personal life[edit]

Baker grew up in Venice, California and graduated from UCLA with a major in Political Science. He has a masters degree in Journalism from Columbia Journalism School.[3] He is in his late fifties.[4]

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."[4] 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.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Rutten, Tim (January 7, 2009). "'Family of Secrets' by Russ Baker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Stories by Russ Baker". Alternet. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schreckinger, Ben (January 2015). "Boston Isn’t Strong. Boston Is Scared Sh*tless.". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Baker, Russ (May 6, 2002). "I'm The Other Guy". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ “[Baker, Russ (December 7, 1993). "The rogue police union". Village Voice (New York, NY). 
  7. ^ Baker, Russ (September 10, 1991). "CIA: Out of control". ire.org. Investigative Reporters & Editors. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Baker, Russ (September 10, 1991). "CIA: Out of control". Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  9. ^ Baker, Russ (April 1997), "The clash of the titans", George Magazine, retrieved 5 July 2016 
  10. ^ Baker, Russ (22 December 1998). "Portrait of a political "pit bull"". www.salon.com. Salon.com. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  11. ^ A touch of Eden”, by Russ Baker, Esquire, 1 December 1999, 12:00 AM.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Baker, Russ (23 June 2003), ""Scoops" and Truth at the Times", The Nation, retrieved 5 July 2016 
  14. ^ Baker, Russ (29 September 2004), "Fear of flying", The Nation, retrieved 5 July 2016 
  15. ^ a b "Awards Winners and Finalists Presented in 2005". Deadline Club, the NYC Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  16. ^ "whowhatwhy.org Site Overview". www.alexa.com. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  17. ^ Baker, Russ. "Our story". whowhatwhy.org. The Real News Project. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  18. ^ a b "Arena Profile: Russ Baker". Politico. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  19. ^ Ladhani, Caroline (Nov 15, 2001). "Columbia Journalism Review Marks 40th Anniversary with Special Issue". Columbia Journalism Review (Columbia University/Columbia Journalism School). Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  20. ^ Baker, Russ (24 March 2009). "Presentation at Book People in Austin, TX". C-SPAN Book TV. C-SPAN. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  21. ^ Baker, Russ (11 November 2009). "Greater Boston with Emily Rooney". WGBH (archived). WGBH, Boston. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  22. ^ Baker, Russ (7 May 2014). "Russ Baker on government Internet censorship". Going Underground (archived). RT. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  23. ^ Baker, Russ (8 July 2009). "Russ Baker on the Ron Reagan radio show (Part 1)". Air America network. Retrieved 11 July 2016.  (the first of four segments).
  24. ^ "VIDEO: Russ Baker: The Role of the Warren Commission Staff in the Cover-up - Family of Secrets". Family of Secrets. 2 May 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  25. ^ "Russ Baker - Guests". Coast to Coast AM. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  26. ^ "Family of Secrets", review by Lev Grossman, Time Magazine, December 17, 2008.
  27. ^ "Behind the News/ Numerology & 2014". Coast to Coast with George Noory. May 21, 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 

External links[edit]