Template:Infobox writer Ronald Borek Kessler (born December 31, 1943) is an American journalist and author of 21 non-fiction books about the White House, U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Seven of his books have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list.
Kessler was born in New York City to Dr. Ernest Borek and Minuetta Shumiatcher Borek, and grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts. His father was born in Hungary and his mother was born in Russia. He attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1962 to 1964 before embarking on a career in journalism. Kessler is married and has two children.
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. A series he wrote while there was instrumental in the installation of a better plaque commemorating the location of Boston's Pre-Revolutionary-War Liberty Tree. In 1968, he joined The Wall Street Journal as an investigative 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).
The Washington Post
In 1970 Kessler joined The Washington Post as an investigative reporter and continued in that position until 1985. 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. That Kessler series resulted in congressional passage in 1974 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which outlaws kickbacks for referral of settlement services in connection with real estate closings. For the two series, Kessler was named a Washingtonian of the Year for 1972 by Washingtonian magazine. 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. 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.
Since leaving The Washington Post, Kessler has authored 21 nonfiction books on intelligence and current affairs. Seven of his books reached the hardcover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list: The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents (2014),The Secrets of the FBI (2011), 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; The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society (1999), an investigative report on the lives of multi-billionaires in Palm Beach, Florida; and Inside the White House (1995), a behind-the-scenes expose of presidencies from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton.."
Kessler’s book, The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency, led to the dismissal by President Clinton of William S. Sessions as FBI director over his abuses. According to The Washington Post, "A Justice Department official...noted that the original charges against Sessions came not from FBI agents but from a journalist, Ronald Kessler [who uncovered the abuses while writing a book about the FBI, leading to Sessions' dismissal by President Clinton]..." The New York Times said Kessler's FBI book "did indeed trigger bureau and Justice Department investigations into alleged travel and expense abuses [by FBI Director William Sessions, leading to his departure]...
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. The New York Times said the book offers an "understanding of the institution's history, as well as an account of what it is like to be on the inside...Kessler investigates the relationship between FBI directors and sitting presidents and also includes exclusive interviews with Robert Mueller, who led the FBI in the period immediately after 9/11.” 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."  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." 
Kessler's 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 reporter... an insightful and entertaining story." Newsweek said of the book, "Kessler’s such a skilled storyteller, you almost forget this is dead-serious nonfiction... An afterword reveals new details about Kessler’s discovery of a third uninvited intruder during last year’s White House State Dinner... The behind-the-scenes anecdotes are delightful, but Kessler has a bigger point to make, one concerning why the under-appreciated Secret Service deserves better leadership." FactCheck.org said, “His [Kessler’s] book quotes both flattering and unflattering observations about presidents of both parties.”
On April 14, 2012, Kessler broke the story that the Secret Service had removed and sent home agents assigned to protect President Obama during his trip to Cartagena, Colombia, because they had been involved in hiring prostitutes there.
Kessler's book The Secrets of the FBI presents revelations about the Russian spy swap, Marilyn Monroe's death, Vince Foster’s suicide, the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, and J. Edgar Hoover’s sexual orientation. For the first time, it tells how the FBI caught spy Robert Hanssen in its midst and how secret teams of FBI agents break into homes, offices, and embassies to plant bugging devices without getting caught and shot as burglars.
On November 9, 2012, Kessler broke the story that an FBI investigation led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as CIA director. The concern was that Petraeus had put himself in a compromised position, opening himself to potential blackmail by foreign intelligence services. Kessler's subsequent story on Nov. 11 said an FBI source had told him on Oct. 10 that agents on the case were outraged because they were told by senior officials that the FBI was going to hold their findings in limbo until after the election, when Petraeus would be told to resign. The day after the election, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of National Intelligence, told the CIA director to resign.
Kessler's book The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents debuted at #4 on the hardcover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list. In the book Kessler reports that Vice President Joe Biden enjoys skinny dipping, offending female agents, and that being assigned to his detail is considered by agents to be the second worst protective assignment in the Secret Service after being assigned to Hillary Clinton's detail. The book also reveals that the Secret Service covered up the fact that President Ronald Reagan’s White House staff overruled the Secret Service to let unscreened spectators get close to Reagan as he left the Washington Hilton, allowing John W. Hinckley, Jr. to shoot the president. The New York Post called the book “a compelling look at the intrepid personnel who shield America’s presidents and their families—and those whom they guard. Kessler writes flatteringly and critically about people in both parties.”
Kessler's latest book is The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game. The Washington Post’s review called the book “trustworthy, and, in an unusual twist these days, it’s favorable to the president....Kessler also got Trump to sit down for an interview on New Year’s Eve at Mar-a-Lago, a conversation that shows the president confident and comfortable in his role....Kessler conveys Trump’s world in coherent, readable fashion, and provides the players’ assessments of one another.
Citing Kessler’s two Secret Service books exposing the agency's laxness and corner cutting, SmartBlog on Leadership said, “One person [Ronald Kessler] was warning of the decline of the [Secret Service and its lapses and failures] well before the Salahis crashed a state dinner in 2009; well before the 2012 prostitute scandal in Colombia; before a knife-wielding man gained entrance to the White House last year; and before the recent episode in which drunk agents drove their car up to the White House and interrupted an active bomb investigation.” 
"Ron Kessler...has enjoyed a reputation for solid reporting over the past four decades," Lloyd Grove wrote in his column in The Daily Beast. Franklin Pierce University awarded Kessler the Marlin Fitzwater Medallion for excellence as a prolific author, journalist, and communicator.
Kessler writes The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Washington Times, and Politico opinion pieces, including “Surveillance: An American Success Story” on Politico, "Reform the Secret Service" in The Washington Post, and "The Real Joe McCarthy," which attacked efforts by some conservative writers to vindicate the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, in The Wall Street Journal.
After National Public Radio (NPR) fired Juan Williams as a news analyst, Kessler wrote "The Juan Williams I Know". Based on his book The Secrets of the FBI, Kessler wrote “Russia Tried to Swap Spies Hanssen, Ames”. In a Time magazine opinion piece, Kessler wrote “The Secret Service Thinks We Are Fools” after the White House intrusion based on his book The First Family Detail.
From 2006 to 2012, Kessler was chief Washington correspondent for Newsmax. He wrote the Washington Insider column, and his stories for Newsmax included interviews with President Bush, Donald Trump, Sam Donaldson, Andy Card, CIA Director Michael Hayden, Mitt Romney, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Vice President Dick Cheney, Jim Cramer, Deborah Norville, Dana Perino, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Brian Lamb, Juan Williams, Edwin Meese III, Condoleezza Rice, and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. For his Newsmax columns, Kessler won the first Robert Novak Journalist of the Year Award.
On January 4, 2010, Kessler wrote a Newsmax article revealing that the Secret Service allowed a third uninvited guest to attend President Obama’s state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh besides party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi on Nov. 24, 2009. The Secret Service confirmed the third intrusion "following a report by Ronald Kessler, a journalist who writes for Newsmax.com", The Washington Post said. "Kessler reported that the agency discovered the third crasher after examining surveillance video of arriving guests and found one tuxedoed man who did not match any name on the guest list."
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". 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. Newsmax posted a clarification while standing by the story, suggesting that perhaps the sermon occurred on a different day in July. Shortly after the controversy broke, Kessler confirmed to TPM that he attempted to remove information documenting it from his English Wikipedia biography.
In December 2008, Kessler wrote a column debunking claims that Obama was not born in the U.S. He also wrote an article reporting that intelligence officials are impressed by how Obama takes intelligence briefings.
In January 2011, Kessler wrote a column headlined “Don’t Underestimate Donald Trump for President.” Additional stories by Kessler in early 2016 took readers behind the scenes with Trump and predicted he would win the presidency and how he would operate as president. In “A Roadmap to Trump’s Washington,” Kessler described the carrot-and-stick approach Trump used to get his Mar-a-Lago estate approved as a club by Palm Beach Town Council members and predicted he would operate in the same manner as president to win over support for his agenda. In “The Anatomy of a Trump Decision,” Kessler depicted how Trump makes decisions by focusing on his decision to turn his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach into a private club.
Kessler's writings have been criticized in publications such as The Washington Post and The Week for overt partisanship and a lack of journalistic rigor.
But in a note to The Week, Kessler disputed Marc Ambinder’s claims of inaccuracy, including Ambinder’s only significant claim that Vice President Joe Biden has not spent a million dollars of taxpayer funds to take personal trips on Air Force Two back and forth between Washington and his home in Wilmington. The publication agreed to update Ambinder’s article, saying that “...author Ronald Kessler provided The Week with documentation from the Air Force about Vice President Biden's travel” and linked to the Air Force’s letter responding to Kessler’s Freedom of Information Act request with the official record of Biden’s trips back and forth between Washington and Wilmington with their cost as listed in Kessler’s book The First Family Detail.
Noting Kessler's extraordinary access to the then Secret Service Director, Mark Sullivan, during the writing of In The President's Secret Service, James Bamford wrote in a review in The Washington Post that:
However, in reviewing Kessler’s book In the President's Secret Service, FactCheck.org said, "His [Kessler's] book quotes both flattering and unflattering observations about presidents of both parties."
A September 30, 2014 Politico piece by Kessler on Secret Service blunders, including allowing a knife-wielding intruder to race into the White House and failing to detect gun shots at the White House until four days later, was criticized by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for allegedly implying that because he had not taken steps to correct the problems within the agency by replacing the director, President Obama would be at fault if the Secret Service's security breakdowns led to his own assassination. A subsequent editor's note called that a misinterpretation. The reference in question said, "Agents tell me that it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred. Sadly, given Obama’s colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service."
According to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on CIA torture and the report itself as reported in The New York Times, Kessler's book, The CIA at War, "included inaccurate claims about the effectiveness of CIA interrogations" provided by the CIA to Kessler and New York Times reporter Douglas Jehl, such as the claim that the arrests of terrorist suspects were based on information from interrogations of other terrorists under torture. The report said this rationale was used to justify the use of torture. In a comment to The New York Times, Kessler said he corroborated what he was told with the FBI, and he called the Senate report discredited because it was written only by Democratic lawmakers and did not include interviews with many of the main players. Subsequently, John Brennan, President Obama's appointee as CIA director, said that while no one knows whether the information could have been obtained otherwise, "Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives."
- (1985) The Life Insurance Game. Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 978-0-03-070507-6.
- (1986) The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Adnan Khashoggi. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446513395.
- (1988) Spy vs. Spy: Stalking Soviet Spies in America. Scribner. ISBN 978-0684189451.
- (1989) Moscow Station: How the KGB Penetrated the American Embassy. Scribner. ISBN 978-0684189819.
- (1990) The Spy in the Russian Club: How Glenn Souther Stole America’s Nuclear War Plans and Escaped to Moscow. Scribner. ISBN 978-0684191164.
- (1991) Escape from the CIA: How the CIA Won and Lost the Most Important Spy Ever to Defect to the U.S.. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671726645.
- (1992) Inside the CIA: Revealing the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Spy Agency. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671734572.
- (1993) The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671786571.
- (1995) Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671879204.
- (1996) The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446518840.
- (1997) Inside Congress: The Shocking Scandals, Corruption, and Abuse of Power Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671003852.
- (1999) The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0060193911.
- (2002) The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312304027.
- (2003) The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312319328.
- (2004) A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush. Sentinel. ISBN 1-59523-000-9.
- (2006) Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-51621-5.
- (2007) The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack. Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-38213-9.
- (2009) In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-46135-3.
- (2011) The Secrets of the FBI. Crown. ISBN 978-0804139212.
- (2014) The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents. Crown Forum.
- (2018) The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game. Crown Forum.
- (2006) Marquis Who's Who in America, 2007. Marquis Who's Who Inc.. ISBN 0-8379-7006-7.
- DC Style, March/April 2006, page 150
- Ronald Kessler Bio. Retrieved on March 27, 2016.
- Ronald Kessler Biography. NewsMax. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved on March 22, 2008.
- Scandal Series Wins Prize. Oakland Tribune (February 1, 1973). Retrieved on March 22, 2008.
- McBee, Susanna (February 12, 1979). "Reporter Is Cited For GSA Articles", The Washington Post. Retrieved on March 23, 2008.
- Hearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business. Retrieved on November 7, 2016.
- Past Washingtonians of the Year. Washingtonian. Retrieved on March 26, 2008.
- Hershey, Edward. A History of Journalistic Integrity, Superb Reporting and Protecting the Public: The George Polk Awards in Journalism. Long Island University. Retrieved on March 22, 2008.
- The Washington Post, March 12, 1984, page A1; April 18, 1984, page C1; April 5, 1984, page C3; March 27, 1985, page A22.
- USA Today, May 7. 2009, page 5D
- The Washington Post, June 19, 1993, page A1; The Washington Post, July 20, 1993, page A1.
- MacKenzie, John (September 12, 1993). "How the G-Men Measure Up Now", The New York Times.
- The Washington Times, June 2, 2005, page A11; New York Post, June 3, 2005, page 14; The Washington Post, December 20, 2008, page A1.
- de León, Conceptión (May 11, 2017). "3 Revelatory Books About the FBI", The New York Times.
- "Ronald Kessler" The Daily Show, March 12, 2008, retrieved April 24, 2009.
- The Washington Times, December 18, 2007, page A15
- USA Today, August 18, 2009, final edition, page 3D
- "In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect", Newsweek (August 4, 2010). Retrieved on August 5, 2010.
- Kessler, Ronald. "Secret Service Tattletales?", FactCheck.org. Retrieved on November 14, 2013.
- The Washington Post, April 14, 2012, page A18
- Home Visits And Other Secrets Of The FBI. Retrieved on October 8, 2017.
- Template:Cite press release
- "FBI secret ops help prevent new 9/11: Author", CBS News (August 2, 2011). Retrieved on November 6, 2011.
- Kessler, Ronald (November 9, 2012). "FBI Investigation Led to Petraeus Resignation", Newsmax. Retrieved on November 11, 2012.
- Kessler, Ronald (November 13, 2012). "FBI Suppressed Petraeus Scandal to Protect President", Newsmax. Retrieved on November 14, 2012.
- New York Times Best Seller list (August 16, 2014). Retrieved on August 16, 2014.
- Joe Biden, just a regular guy who goes skinny dipping. Retrieved on 2 August 2014.
- Ronald Kessler Newbook. Retrieved on June 29, 2015.
- Secret Service Agents Hillary Is A Nightmare To Work With. Retrieved on October 4, 2015.
- Kessler, Ronald (January 5, 2018). "Trump Author Ron Kessler: He’s Fit for Office", Newsmax. Retrieved on January 7, 2018.
- Kessler, Ronald (April 6, 2018). "A First Year Assessment of Trump’s Triumphs", Washington Post. Retrieved on April 6, 2018.
- The Leadership Lessons from the Secret Service’s Struggles. Retrieved on 14 April 2015.
- Kessler, Ronald (August 25, 2015). "Donald Trump’s No. 1 Cheerleader", The Daily Beast. Retrieved on August 25, 2015.
- Template:Cite press release
- Kessler, Ronald (August 23, 2013). "Surveillance: An American Success Story", Politico. Retrieved on August 26, 2013.
- Kessler, Ronald (April 22, 2008). "The Real Joe McCarthy", The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on April 16, 2017.
- Kessler, Ronald (March 15, 2015). "Reform the Secret Service", The Washington Post. Retrieved on March 18, 2015.
- Kessler, Ronald (October 25, 2010). "The Juan Williams I Know". Newsmax
- Kessler, Ronald (August 1, 2011).“Russia Tried to Swap Spies Hanssen, Ames”. “Newsmax”.
- Kessler, Ronald (September 23, 2014). "The Secret Service Thinks we Are Fools", Time. Retrieved on September 25, 2014.
- Ronald Kessler Joins Newsmax. Newsmax (June 6, 2006). Retrieved on March 22, 2008.
- Washington Insider with Ronald Kessler Archive. NewsMax. Retrieved on March 22, 2008.
- Newsmax's Kessler Wins Top CPAC Journalist Award. Newsmax (February 20, 2010). Retrieved on February 21, 2010.
- Kessler, Ronald (January 4, 2010). "Secret Service Let Third Intruder Into White House", Newsmax. Retrieved on November 5, 2011.
- Roberts, Roxanne (January 4, 2010). "Secret Services confirms report of 'third crasher' at White House state dinner", The Washington Post. Retrieved on November 6, 2011.
- Kessler, Ronald (March 16, 2008). "Obama Attended Hate America Sermon", Newsmax. Retrieved on March 17, 2008. Archived from the original on March 24, 2008.
- "Schedule Puts Obama in Miami During July '07 Wright Sermon", Fox News (March 17, 2008). Retrieved on November 5, 2011. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008.
- Sargent, Greg (March 17, 2008). "Newsmax's Kessler Scrubs Reference To His Obama Factual Blunder From His Wiki Page", Talking Points Memo. Retrieved on March 18, 2008.
- Kessler, Ronald (December 8, 2008), "Obama Was Born in the United States", Newsmax
- Kessler, Ronald (December 11, 2008), "Obama is Quick Study in Intelligence Briefings", Newsmax
- Kessler, Ronald (January 20, 2011). "Don't Underestimate Donald Trump for President", Newsmax. Retrieved on November 10, 2016.
- Kessler, Ronald (January 6, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: Truffle and Ricotta Ravioli", The Daily Mail.
- Kessler, Ronald (February 29, 2016). "Take a Look at How Donald Trump Operates Mar-a-Lago", The Daily Mail.
- Kessler, Ronald (April 3, 2017). "A Roadmap to Trump’s Washington", The Washington Times.
- Kessler, Ronald (April 26, 2017). "The Anatomy of a Trump Decision", The Washington Times.
- "The Weird Inaccuracies In Ronald Kesslers New Book On The Secret Service", The Week. Retrieved on August 31, 2014.
- James Bamford Reviews Ronald Kessler's 'In the President's Secret Service'. washingtonpost.com.
- "Obamas Life Is At Risk", Politico Magazine. Retrieved on October 1, 2014.
- "Really Politico", Talking Points Memo. Retrieved on October 1, 2014.
- The Senate Committee’s Report on the CIA’s Use of Torture, The New York Times December 9, 2014
- 7 Key Points From the C.I.A. Torture Report, By JEREMY ASHKENAS, HANNAH FAIRFIELD, JOSH KELLER and PAUL VOLPE, The New York Times, December 9, 2014
- ABC News. CIA Pushes Back on Assertion That It Overstated Intelligence From Detention Program. ABC News.
- Kessler's personal website
- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on In the President's Secret Service
- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on The Terrorist Watch