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Ronald Kessler

Ronald Borek Kessler is an American journalist and author of 18 non-fiction books. He is chief Washington, D.C. correspondent of the conservative news and commentary blog


Personal life

Kessler was born in New York City in 1943. He grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts and attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1962 to 1964, before embarking on a career in journalism. He is married and has two children.[1]



Early career

Kessler began his career in 1964 as a reporter with the Worcester Telegram, followed by three years as an investigative reporter and editorial writer with the Boston Herald. In 1968, he joined the Wall Street Journal as a reporter in the New York bureau. During these years, his reporting won awards from the American Political Science Association (public affairs reporting award, 1965), United Press International (1967) and the Associated Press (Sevellon Brown Memorial award, 1967).[1]

Washington Post

In 1970 Kessler joined the Washington Post as an investigative reporter and continued as a staff writer until 1985.[2] In 1972, he won a George Polk Memorial award for Community Service because of two series of articles he wrote—one on conflicts of interest and mismanagement at Washington area non-profit hospitals, and a second series exposing kickbacks among lawyers, title insurance companies, realtors, and lenders in connection with real estate settlements, inflating the cost of buying homes.[3][4] He was also named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine that year.[5] In 1979, Kessler won a second Polk Award, this one for National Reporting for a series of articles exposing corruption in the General Services Administration; he won even though his editor, Ben Bradlee, had not submitted his stories for consideration.[4][6] Kessler's Washington Post stories reporting that Lena Ferguson had been denied membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) because she is black led to her acceptance by the DAR and widespread changes in its policies to increase membership by blacks.[7]


After leaving the Washington Post, Kessler authored eighteen nonfiction books on intelligence and current affairs. Four of his books reached the hardover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list: In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (2009), described by USA Today as "the inside scoop on those stern-faced guys who protect the president," Laura Bush (2006), a biography of the first lady; A Matter of Character (2004), an admiring look at George W. Bush's presidency; and Inside the White House (1995), a behind-the-scenes expose of presidencies from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton.."[8]

A fifth book, The Season (1999), an investigative report of the lives of millionaires in Palm Beach, Florida, made the bestseller list for business books.[9] Kessler’s book The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency led to the dismissal of William S. Sessions as FBI director over his abuses.[10]

In his book The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, Kessler presented the first credible evidence that Bob Woodward’s and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate source dubbed Deep Throat was FBI official W. Mark Felt. The book said that Woodward paid a secret visit to Felt in California and had his limousine park ten blocks away from Felt’s home so as not to attract attention.[11] Jon Stewart of The Daily Show said Kessler's The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack is a "very interesting look inside the FBI and CIA, which I think is unprecedented." [12] The Washington Times said of the book, "Ronald Kessler is a veteran Washington-based investigative journalist on national security...His unparalleled access to top players in America's counterterrorism campaign allowed him a rare glimpse into their tradecraft, making The Terrorist Watch a riveting account." [13]

Kessler's latest book, In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect, was described by USA Today as a "fascinating exposé...high-energy read...amusing, saucy, often disturbing anecdotes about the VIPs the [ [Secret Service] ] has protected and still protects.....[accounts come] directly from current and retired agents (most identified by name, to Kessler's credit)....Balancing the sordid tales are the kinder stories of presidential humanity...[Kessler is a] respected journalist and former Washington Post insightful and entertaining story."[14]


In June, 2006 Kessler became chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax, a conservative website and magazine.[15] He writes the Washington Insider column for the publication, and his stories for Newsmax have included interviews with President Bush, Donald Trump, Sam Donaldson, Andy Card, CIA Director Michael Hayden, Mitt Romney, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Lynne Cheney, Jim Cramer, Deborah Norville, Dana Perino, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Brian Lamb, Juan Williams, and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.[16] For his Newsmax columns, Kessler won the Robert Novak Journalist of the Year Award in 2010.[17] Kessler also writes Wall Street Journal op-eds, including "The Real Joe McCarthy," which attacked efforts by some conservative writers to vindicate the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy.[18]

Coverage of Barack Obama

In an article for Newsmax, on March 16, 2008, Kessler incorrectly reported, based on a previous Newsmax story by a freelance writer, that Senator Barack Obama attended a service at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ on July 22, 2007, during which Rev. Jeremiah Wright gave a sermon that blamed world suffering on "white arrogance."[19] The Obama campaign denied that Obama had attended the church on the day that sermon was delivered and other reporters discovered that Obama was in fact in transit to Miami, Florida on that day.[20] Newsmax posted a "clarification" while standing by the story, suggesting that perhaps the sermon occurred on a different day in July.[19] Shortly after the controversy broke, Kessler confirmed to TPM that he attempted to remove information documenting it from his Wikipedia biography.[21] More recently, Kessler wrote Obama Was Born in the United States, exposing mythology about whether Obama is a U.S. citizen. He also wrote Obama is Quick Study in Intelligence Briefings, reporting that intelligence officials are impressed by how Obama takes intelligence briefings, and Obama Understands Washington 101, contrasting Obama's approach to cultivating Washington with George Bush's.


  • The Life Insurance Game. Henry Holt & Co. 1985. ISBN 978-0030705076. 
  • The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Adnan Khashoggi. 1988. ISBN 978-0446352291. 
  • Spy vs. Spy: Stalking Soviet Spies in America. Pocket. 1989. ISBN 978-0671679675. 
  • Moscow Station: How the KGB Penetrated the American Embassy. Pocket. 1990. ISBN 978-0671693381. 
  • The Spy in the Russian Club: How Glenn Souther Stole America’s Nuclear War Plans and Escaped to Moscow. Pocket. 1992. ISBN 978-0671738907. 
  • Escape from the CIA: How the CIA Won and Lost the Most Important Spy Ever to Defect to the U.S.. Pocket Star Books. 1992. ISBN 978-0671726652. 
  • The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency. Pocket. 1994. ISBN 978-0671786588. 
  • Inside the CIA: Revealing the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Spy Agency. Pocket Books. 1994. ISBN 978-0671734589. 
  • Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution. Pocket. 1996. ISBN 978-0671879198. 
  • The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded. Grand Central Publishing. 1996. ISBN 978-0446518840. 
  • Inside Congress: The Shocking Scandals, Corruption, and Abuse of Power Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill. Pocket. 1998. ISBN 978-0671003869. 
  • The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society. HarperTorch. 2000. ISBN 978-0061098420. 
  • The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. St. Martin's Paperbacks. 2003. ISBN 978-0312989774. 
  • The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror. St. Martin's Griffin. 2004. ISBN 978-0312319335. 
  • A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush. 2004. ISBN 1595230149. 
  • Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady. Broadway. 2006. ISBN 978-0767921916. 
  • The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack. Three Rivers Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0307382146. 
  • In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. Crown. 2009. ISBN 978-0307461353. 


  1. ^ a b "Ronald Kessler", Marquis Who's Who in America, 2007, Marquis Who's Who Inc., 2006, ISBN 0837970067 
  2. ^ "Ronald Kessler Biography". NewsMax. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  3. ^ "Scandal Series Wins Prize". Oakland Tribune. 1973-02-01. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b McBee, Susanna (1979-02-12). "Reporter Is Cited For GSA Articles". Washington Post. 
  5. ^ "Past Washingtonians of the Year". Washingtonian. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  6. ^ Hershey, Edward. "A History of Journalistic Integrity, Superb Reporting and Protecting the Public: The George Polk Awards in Journalism". Long Island University. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  7. ^ Washington Post, March 12, 1984, page A1; April 18, 1984, page C1; April 5, 1984, page C3; March 27, 1985, page A22.
  8. ^ USA Today, May 7. 2009, page 5D
  9. ^ New York Times search query
  10. ^ Washington Post, June 19, 1993, page A1; Washington Post, July 20, 1993, page A1.
  11. ^ Washington Times, June 2, 2005, page A11; New York Post, June 3, 2005, page 14; Washington Post, December 20, 2008, page A1.
  12. ^ The Daily Show, March 12, 2008 access date 2009-04-24 The Daily Show
  13. ^ Washington Times, December 18, 2007, page A15
  14. ^ USA Today, Aug. 18, 2009, final edition, page 3D
  15. ^ "Ronald Kessler Joins Newsmax". Newsmax. 2006-06-06. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  16. ^ "Washington Insider with Ronald Kessler Archive". NewsMax. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  17. ^ "Newsmax's Kessler Wins Top CPAC Journalist Award". Newsmax. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  18. ^ Kessler, Ronald (2008-04-22). "The Real Joe McCarthy". Opinion (The Wall Street Journal). Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  19. ^ a b Kessler, Ronald (2008-03-16). "Obama Attended Hate America Sermon". Newsmax. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  20. ^ "Schedule Puts Obama in Miami During July ‘07 Wright Sermon". Fox News. 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  21. ^ "Newsmax's Kessler Scrubs Reference To His Obama Factual Blunder From His Wiki Page". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 

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