My name is Russ Baker. For more than two decades I have been an investigative journalist, doing what I believed journalists were supposed to do — seek the truth and publish nothing less. Over the years, however, I have learned how the media gatekeepers, both “mainstream” and “alternative,” will not allow the biggest, most disturbing revelations to see the light of day.
I started WhoWhatWhy because I was tired of the cynicism, self-interest, and cowardice that I witnessed in the news media. I started WhoWhatWhy to show how good — and how consequential — journalism can be when the only mandate is to dig relentlessly, and reveal, without exception, what we uncover.
What we do
WhoWhatWhy embodies a form of investigative reporting that is rigorous, relentless and scientific — we call it forensic journalism.
Forensic journalism requires skepticism towards power and credentialed expertise; a determination to unearth the facts interested parties want to keep hidden; and an unflinching commitment to follow the trail wherever it leads. We are truth seeking-not quote seeking.
We take on controversial topics others will not touch and dig deep to uncover and name the institutions and persons shaping our world. Our organization is neither partisan nor ideological and only provides accounts based on extensive research and thorough sourcing.
In addition to producing rigorous investigative reporting, we seek to further the long-term survival and betterment of the news industry as a whole.
We pair senior reporters who have decades of experience with dedicated young journalists new to the field. We facilitate the transfer of values, methods and culture as our talented and varied investigators shape an improved and adaptive form of journalism to fit our times.
Provide us your ideas
We strongly encourage our readers to join us in our mission. If you know of a news, academic or literary source that relates to one of our stories, tell us about it. If there is a story of interest that hasn’t received coverage or documented facts we are missing, let us know! Consider yourself the media watchdog for the media watchdog.
Donate to Us
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THE BOARD AND STAFF
WhoWhatWhy is made up of a combination of full-time journalists, expert advisors and other specialists.
FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Russ Baker is an award-winning investigative reporter with a track record for making sense of complex and little understood matters — and explaining it to elites and ordinary people alike, using entertaining, accessible writing to inform and involve.
Over the course of more than two decades in journalism, Baker has broken scores of major stories. Topics included: early reporting on inaccuracies in the articles of The New York Times’s Judith Miller that built support for the invasion of Iraq; the media campaign to destroy UN chief Kofi Annan and undermine confidence in multilateral solutions; revelations by George Bush’s biographer that as far back as 1999 then-presidential candidate Bush already spoke of wanting to invade Iraq; the real reason Bush was grounded during his National Guard days — as recounted by the widow of the pilot who replaced him; an article published throughout the world that highlighted the West’s lack of resolve to seriously pursue the genocidal fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, responsible for the largest number of European civilian deaths since World War II; several investigations of allegations by former members concerning the practices of Scientology; corruption in the leadership of the nation’s largest police union; a well-connected humanitarian relief organization operating as a cover for unauthorized US covert intervention abroad; detailed evidence that a powerful congressional critic of Bill Clinton and Al Gore for financial irregularities and personal improprieties had his own track record of far more serious transgressions; a look at the practices and values of top Democratic operative and the clients they represent when out of power in Washington; the murky international interests that fueled both George W. Bush’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns; the efficacy of various proposed solutions to the failed war on drugs; the poor-quality televised news program for teens (with lots of advertising) that has quietly seeped into many of America’s public schools; an early exploration of deceptive practices by the credit card industry; a study of ecosystem destruction in Irian Jaya, one of the world’s last substantial rain forests.
Baker has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Esquire, and dozens of other major domestic and foreign publications. He has also served as a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. Baker received a 2005 Deadline Club award for his exclusive reporting on George W. Bush’s military record. He is the author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America (Bloomsbury Press, 2009); it was released in paperback as Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Secret History of the Last Fifty Years. For more information on Russ’s work, see his sites, www.familyofsecrets.com and www.russbaker.com.
Board of Directors and Their Affiliations
- – Award-winning investigative reporter
- – Contributor: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Esquire, and dozens of other major domestic and foreign publications
- – Contributing editor: Columbia Journalism Review
- – Deadline Club Awardee
- – Author: Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America (Bloomsbury Press, 2009); in paperback as Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Secret History of the Last Fifty Years
Margaret Engel (Emeritus)
- – President: Alicia Patterson Foundation
- – Former Managing editor: Newseum ( Washington, D.C. )
- – Graduate: University of Missouri School of Journalism
- – Nieman Fellow, Harvard University
- – Board member: Fund for Investigative Journalism
- – Member: Investigative Reporters and Editors
- – Staff reporter: The Washington Post, the Des Moines Register, and the Lorain (OH) Journal
Jonathan Z. Larsen
- – Former Time magazine editor and correspondent (Saigon bureau chief)
- – Editor, New Times (1974-1979)
- – Editor, The Village Voice (1989-1994)
- – Nieman Fellow, Harvard University
- – Contributor: New York, Manhattan, Inc., New England Monthly, and the Columbia Journalism Review
- – Clarion Awardee
- – Board member: Cambridge College and Sterling College
- – New York Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council
- – Former New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs
- – Former Public Affairs Director of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association
- – Graduate: Fordham University, Boston University
- – Silicon Valley entrepreneur, co-founder of a start-up to make a next-generation programmable silicon chip.
- – 32 years of experience in computer architecture, logic design and software design and development.
- – Holds 28 patents in integrated circuit design and computer-aided design methods.
- – Has worked in Computer Security, Programming Languages, CAD languages. Role in making DARPAnet, a predecessor to the Internet, easier to use.
- – Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
- – Founder of California’s top-ranked charter school.
- – Special interest in election integrity and the investigation of electronic voting machine fraud.
Editorial Advisory Council and their affiliations
(for identification purposes only)
John Perry Barlow (Co-Founder and Vice President at Algae Systems, LLC) Among many endeavors, John Perry Barlow has been a cattle rancher in Wyoming, a songwriter for the Grateful Dead, and the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been protecting the free flow of information on the Internet since 1990. He is also co-founder with Daniel Ellsberg of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He remains on the board of these organizations. He has been writing about society in Cyberspace since 1988 and was first to apply that name to the global social space it presently describes. He was a founding Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In 2013, he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. More recently, cofounded and is helping run Algae Systems, a enterprise that transforms sewage and atmospheric CO2 into energy positive drinking water and carbon-negative transportation fuel. He is the father of three daughters and his primary aspiration is to be a good ancestor.
Mark Dowie (San Francisco) teaches science at The University of California Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former Editor-at-Large of InterNation, a transnational feature syndicate based in New York, and a former Publisher and Editor of Mother Jones magazine. During his 35 years in journalism, Dowie has written over 200 investigative reports for magazines, newspapers and other publications. Before and after working for Mother Jones, he also either worked or wrote regularly for the Cleveland Press, the San Francisco Examiner, California Magazine and American Health. He is the author of five books and the recipient of 18 journalism awards, including four National Magazine Awards.
Robert Dreyfuss (Washington, DC) is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, an investigative history of US policy toward political Islam. For fifteen years, he has worked as an independent journalist who specializes in magazine features, profiles, and investigative stories in the areas of politics and national security. Based in Alexandria, VA, he covers national security for Rolling Stone’s National Affairs section. He is also a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, and a senior correspondent for The American Prospect. His web site is www.robertdreyfuss.com.
Daniel Ellsberg (Berkeley) is a pioneering whistleblower. A former Defense and State Department official, his unauthorized release to the Senate and later the media of a top- secret study of US decision-making in Vietnam exposed massive deceptions by the government and contributed to the end of the war. Misconduct in a government prosecution of Ellsberg led to the convictions of White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon. Since the end of the war he has been a lecturer, writer and activist. He is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.
Margaret Engel (Washington, DC) served as the managing editor of the Newseum, the interactive museum of news in Washington, DC She is the president of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the nation’s oldest journalism writing fellowship. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University. She is a board member of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and a longtime member of Investigative Reporters and Editors. She has been part of the reporting staffs of The Washington Post, the Des Moines Register and the Lorain (OH) Journal.
Todd Gitlin (New York) is a professor of Journalism and Sociology at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A contributor to Mother Jones, The Nation and other publications, he is one of America’s leading cultural critics. Among his many books are The Whole World is Watching; Inside Prime Time; and Media Unlimited.
Mark Hertsgaard (San Francisco) is the author most recently of The Eagle’s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World (2002). Previous books include Earth Odyssey: Around the World In Search of Our Environmental Future(1999) and On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency (1988). He has contributed to leading publications the world over, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, and the Guardian. He is the environment correspondent for The Nation, the political correspondent for Link TV, and a commentator for the national radio program Marketplace.
Hanson Hosein (Seattle) is Director of the Communication Leadership graduate program at the University of Washington. He’s President of HRH Media Group, and the host of current affairs show Four Peaks, where his interviews have included founders of firms such as Starbucks and Amazon.com. Hanson advises Weber Shandwick’s Global Technology Practice Chair, Artifact Technologies, Tableau Software and the Pacific Science Center. He’s also communications counsel to Prosperity of the Commons International, a human development agency. Hanson’s book Storyteller Uprising: Trust and Persuasion in the Digital Age, is a study of 21st century content creation and online syndication strategies. Hanson is a pioneer of digital content creation. He directed the award-winning documentary films Rising from Ruins and Independent America: The Two-Lane Search for Mom & Pop, about small businesses and communities resisting chains and big box stores. As a former NBC News war correspondent, backpack journalist and investigative producer, he’s the recipient of Overseas Press Club and Emmy Awards. Hanson has a degrees in journalism from Columbia University and in law from McGill University and the University of Paris.
Frances Moore Lappé (Boston) is author of Diet for a Small Planet and 14 other books including Democracy’s Edge. Co-founder of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (also known as Food First), and the American News Service (1995-2000).
Robert W. McChesney (Illinois) is Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research (ICR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the President and co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. His work concentrates on the history and political economy of communication, and on threats from media monopolies. McChesney has written or edited eleven books, including the multiple award-winning Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. In 2001 Adbusters Magazine named him one of the “Nine Pioneers of Mental Environmentalism.”
Morton Mintz (Washington, DC), a former chair of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, spent 30 years at The Washington Post. He is Senior Advisor to the journalism website Niemanwatchdog.com, served as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and is the author and co-author of numerous books. He has received the Worth Bingham, Heywood Broun, and George Polk Memorial Awards; the Columbia [University] Journalism Award, the Playboy Foundation’s Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for Lifetime Achievement, and, twice, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild award for Public Service.
James C. Moore (Austin, TX) is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. His second book, Bush’s War for Reelection included his groundbreaking ten year investigation into the president’s National Guard record. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976. He is also the author of The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power. His political columns and insights have been published in leading newspapers and periodicals around the globe. Moore is also an award winning documentary film producer. His current book project, When Horses Could Fly: A Memoir of the American Dream is a narrative examining the hopes and dreams of southerners in the aftermath of World War II.
Roger Morris (Georgia) is an award-winning author and investigative journalist who served in the Foreign Service and on the Senior Staff of the National Security Council under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Before resigning over the invasion of Cambodia, he was one of only three officials comprising Henry Kissinger’s Special Projects Staff conducting the initial highly secret “back-channel” negotiations with Hanoi to end the Vietnam War in 1969-1970. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician, 1913-1952, and the best-selling Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America, as well as, most recently, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America (co-authored with historian Sally Denton).
Alvin H. Perlmutter (New York) is Executive Director of the Independent Production Fund. His television programs have aired on PBS, commercial networks and cable, and been broadcast globally. Perlmutter previously served as NBC News Vice President, where he was responsible for all network documentaries and news magazine programs. Perlmutter has received numerous awards including six Emmys for The Great American Dream Machine, Adam Smith’s Money World, and Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers.
Wendell Potter (Philadelphia, PA) After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Potter left his job as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to work for meaningful health care reform. In widely-covered testimony before Congress, he provided a window into health insurer internal practices. Potter, who now serves as a Senior Fellow on Health Care at the Center for Media and Democracy, has worked as a journalist, including with Scripps-Howard. He is the author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans.
Sydney Schanberg (New York) won the Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times reporting on the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia. He won the George Polk Award twice. Schanberg has also worked for Newsday and The Village Voice.
David Talbot (San Francisco, CA) is one of the pioneers of online journalism. A former senior editor at Mother Jones magazine and features editor for the San Francisco Examiner, he was founder and editor-in-chief of Salon, one of the earliest and most important web magazines. His current company, Talbot Players, is a creative shop involved with the development of books, graphic novels, films and more. He is author of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government.
Steve Weinberg (Columbia, MO) is a professor at the University of Missouri Journalism School, a former newspaper and magazine staff writer, and a full-time freelance writer since 1978. In addition to his reporting, writing and teaching, Weinberg served as executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), a 5000-member organization, from 1983-1990. He currently serves as an editor of the IRE magazine. Weinberg is the author of six nonfiction books, several of them seminal works on investigative journalism.
Patricia J. Williams (New York) is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University. She served as a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles and as staff lawyer, Western Center on Law and Poverty. Fellow at the School of Criticism and Theory, Dartmouth College, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Williams published widely in the areas of race, gender, and law, and on other issues of legal theory and legal writing. Books include The Alchemy of Race and Rights; The Rooster’s Egg; and Seeing a ColorBlind Future: The Paradox of Race. Columnist, The Nation. MacArthur fellow. Board of Trustees, Wellesley College.
Key Staff and their Biographies
Executive Director and Editor in Chief Russ Baker is founder of the Real News Project and WhoWhatWhy. He is a graduate of UCLA (BA Political Science) and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (MS), where he has served on the adjunct faculty. Baker has worked as an investigative journalist for many of the world’s top newspapers, magazines, television and radio outlets, and is the recipient of numerous awards. He is the author of the bestseller, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years.
General Manager Steve Havas leads our marketing, development, and administrative activities. He has a long and dynamic background with both nonprofits and for profit organizations, helping them “scale up” and institute processes for long-term success. Steve’s clients have operated in a broad range of areas from the environment to the arts; before turning to nonprofits, Steve worked for major brands including leading business development programs at Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Electronic Data Systems. Early in his career, Steve was a radio reporter. When not growing organizations, Steve spends an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to decipher his artistically inclined daughter and wife.
Senior Editor Jonathan Z. Larsen worked at Time magazine as an editor and correspondent (including Saigon bureau chief), and as editor of New Times and The Village Voice. He was a Nieman Fellow and a Clarion awardee and has written for New York, Manhattan, Inc., New England Monthly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. A graduate of Harvard College, he currently serves on the boards of Cambridge College and Sterling College.
Journalism Community Outreach Strategist Margaret Engel is currently President of the Alicia Patterson Foundation and managing editor of the Newseum. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism and of the Helen Hayes Awards. She has contributed to Glamour, Esquire, Air & Space, the Los Angeles Times and Ladies Home Journal. In addition, she is also a playwright and has published several books on Food. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.
Senior Editor and Copy Chief Gerald Jonas served as a staff writer on The New Yorker for 30 years, and as the longtime science fiction book critic for The New York Times. He is the author of six nonfiction books, including The Circuit Riders: Rockefeller Money and the Rise of Modern Science. His work has also appeared in Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, and Grand Street. He graduated from Yale College magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to numerous awards in journalism and documentary film writing, he won a Henry Fellowship to Cambridge University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Fellowship.
Story Editor Milicent Cranor has among other things been a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance; a creative and acquisitions editor for Saturday Review Press; a staff writer for the original Applause Magazine; a writer for Docent Corporation where she created tests for medical students using the techniques of mystery writers; and co-author of over a dozen articles on cancer research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Politics Editor Klaus Marre worked as a reporter and editor in Washington, DC, for more than a decade. He got his start as investigative journalist at Inside Washington Publishers where he covered occupational health and Medicare/Medicaid services. From there, he moved on to become a reporter at The Hill and primarily wrote about Congress and money in politics. After a stint as correspondent for the German Press Agency, he returned to The Hill to become the paper’s online editor. He then took some time off from journalism to write the novel Human Intelligence. Now, the graduate of the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications is excited to build a team to cover the 2016 White House race.
Associate Editor Maria Adelmann is a writer, editor, and artist whose written work has appeared in publications from Tin House, McSweeny’s, Indiana Review, n+1, and Mental Floss, among others. She has an MFA in creative writing from The University of Virginia, where she was a Poe-Faulkner Fellow, and a BA in English and psychology from Cornell University, where she was a Cornell Tradition Fellow and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Podcasts Editor Jeff Schechtman has long experience in radio, both as a host and an executive. He has interviewed over 8,500 authors, journalists, scientists, educators, politicians and public intellectuals. He has also had a career in independent motion pictures, where among other things he served in senior production positions for New World Pictures and New Line Cinema. In addition, he produced pictures for major Hollywood studios, including Warner, Columbia and United Artists. He is a graduate of Yale University, with a BA in Political Science.
Proofreading Coordinator Kristina Dalberg has a BA in economics and an MA in architecture. She has worked in the arts, as an architect and as a museum curator. Though living in Sweden, she’s long been obsessed with the English language.
Reporter Douglas Lucas studied philosophy and literature at TCU, graduating summa cum laude. His work covering national security matters, internet freedom, nightlife, and more has appeared at Vice, Salon, Nerve, and other venues. He also enjoys writing fiction, mainly in the SF and fantasy genres. He lives in North Texas.
Reporter James Henry has a particular interest in the relationship between the national security state and the sorts of traumatic events that inevitably enhance its power. He earned his BA in Communication and Rhetoric from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY; Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association Honor Society.
Reporter Jon Hecht covers the presidential election for WhoWhatWhy, with a special focus on campaign finance. He grew up in Highland Park, NJ and graduated Cum Laude from New York University. In addition to covering politics for WhoWhatWhy, he occasionally writes about music. He lives in Brooklyn.
Reporter Jimmy Chin is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying mathematics and economics. He also teaches English as a Second Language to adults in the local community. He grew up in New York.
Researcher Myron Bretholz has a masters degree in Forensic Studies from Stevenson University and a bachelor’s degree in Languages from Georgetown University. A talented percussionist, he has been awarded a Maryland State Arts Council grant and was honored several times to play at the White House. His talents can be heard on nearly fifty recordings.
Editorial Assistant Dan Engelke grew up near St. Louis and graduated with a BA in Film/Video from Columbia College Chicago. His primary interests include foreign policy and media analysis. Daniel also writes on film and literature. He lives in Brooklyn.
Creative Director Ayva Cowell (Toronto)
Chief Developer Rick Gregory (Seattle)
Digital Media Manager Joe Wagner has a background in video production, animation, education, and advertising. He graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design, where he later taught Video Production for several years before moving to Atlanta, Georgia—where he currently works in the creative department at Razorfish and operates a small business providing design and marketing support for various clients and industries.
Design consultant Bill Nimelman has had a long career as a graphic designer, both in Dallas and Buffalo. He served as a magazine creative director, and has done extensive political campaign design work. Bill likes to paint, is on the board of the Roswell Park Art Alliance and is a design advisor to the National Stuttering Association. He is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology.
Images Editor: DonkeyHotey
Technology Administrator James Huang graduated from Queens College. For the past fifteen years, he has owned and operated HaiPower Computers which provides technical, hardware and software support, largely to the publishing industry.
Technology Support & Web Publishing Team: Wei Tung, Antony Wong (New York) & Bowen Liu (China)
Facebook Community Editor: Michael Castellini
Twitter Community Editor: Trevin Pinto