Washington Post, Post names Frederick J. Ryan Jr. as new publisher, Craig Timberg, Sept. 2, 2014. Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos is replacing Publisher Katharine Weymouth with Frederick J. Ryan Jr., a former Reagan administration official who was part of the founding leadership team of Politico, a primarily digital news organization that competes with The Post on political coverage, the company announced Tuesday. The departure of Weymouth, 48, ends eight decades of Graham family leadership of The Post, which her great-grandfather bought in 1933. Bezos, who acquired The Post for $250 million in a sale announced in August 2013, initially kept the senior leadership team intact. Ryan, 59, an attorney, spent years rising in the Reagan administration, eventually becoming a top presidential aide and key leader in the construction of his presidential library and numerous other initiatives after Reagan left office in 1989.
Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. (also known as Fred Ryan, born April 12, 1955) was the Chief of Staff for former United States President Ronald Reagan (1989–1995), and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. He is the President and COO of Allbritton Communications Company and Founding CEO and President of Politico.
1 Early career
2 White House years
3 Reagan Chief of Staff (1989–1995)
4 Media Executive/ Founding CEO of Politico (1995 - present)
5 Reagan Foundation
6 White House Historical Association
7 Other Activities
Ryan was born on April 12, 1955 in Tampa, Florida. He attended the University of Southern California, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in 1977, and three years later graduated with honors from USC Law School.
Ryan was employed as an attorney in the Los Angeles, California law firm of Hill, Farrer and Burrill before joining the successful 1980 Reagan-Bush presidential campaign.
White House years
Ryan began serving at the White House in February 1982 as Deputy Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling. He was appointed a year later to the position of Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling. In 1985, Ryan was appointed by the President to head the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives, as well as maintaining his employment as Director of Scheduling. In the new role, Ryan fulfilled a goal of President Reagan's by organizing conferences on Private Sector Initiatives in England, France and Italy that were attended by leading CEO's from around the world.
On November 4, 1987, President Reagan personally appointed Ryan to be Assistant to the President, the highest level of staff position in the White House.
Reagan Chief of Staff (1989–1995)
When President Reagan left office on January 20, 1989, he and First Lady Nancy Reagan returned to California. Ryan was hired to be the former President's post-Chief of Staff. During this time, Ryan was responsible for the establishment and operation of Reagan's office in Century City. He was also very instrumental in the design, fundraising, planning, and overseeing the construction of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Ryan left his position as Chief of Staff in 1995 when, a year earlier, President Reagan announced to the world that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Media Executive/ Founding CEO of Politico (1995 - present)
Following his service as Chief of Staff to fromer President Reagan, he became vice-chairman of the television, cable, and internet company Allbritton Communications. He is now President and COO of the company and manages its multiple broadcast and cable properties.
In 2007, Ryan co-founded Politico, the politically focused website and newspaper covering politics, Congress and the White House. He serves as President and CEO of Politico which was recognized by Fast Company Magazine for Excellence as one of the "World's Most Innovative Companies" in March 2010. In the May 2013 issue of Washington Life, the impact of Politico was noted with Ryan's inclusion in the "Power 100" list of the One Hundred Most Influential People in Washington.
The success of their cross-platform coverage of political news won the prestigious "Walter Cronkite Award" in 2013 for Politico, ABC-7 and NewsChannel 8 under Ryan's management.
In 1995, Ryan became the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, serving with fellow board members including First Lady Nancy Reagan and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He manages the foundation and takes part in library events, with a mission of "preserving Ronald Reagan's legacy."
Under Ryan's chairmanship, the Reagan Foundation garnered the "crown jewel" of President artifacts by obtaining Air Force One, the Presidential Aircraft that had flown Reagan and six other Presidents of the United States. Through funds contributed by his friend T. Boone Pickens and other donors, the Air Force One Museum was built at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.
Ryan made a personal contribution of his own to the Reagan Presidential Library by purchasing the Ronald Reagan Pub in County Tipperary, Ireland while visiting it on a family vacation in 2004. The working pub was completely disassembled and transported by container ship to Los Angeles where it was reassembled under the wing of Air Force One at the Reagan Presidential Library. Ryan's friend, Presidential journalist, Hugh Sidey, joined in in the formal dedication of the Ronald Reagan Pub at the Library. In making the gift, Ryan expressed his pride in his Irish heritage which may account for the reason he and his wife host a large St. Patrick's Day party at their Potomac, MD home each year.
Ryan headed the team that organized the moving national tribute and funeral for Ronald Reagan in June 2004. He was a Pall Bearer at President Reagan's request.
Ryan headed the year long celebration of Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday in 2011. President Obama appointed him to the bipartisan Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission created by an act of Congress. Ryan was elected Chairman of the Commission by the United States Senators and Members of Congress that served on the Commission with him. Events were held across the country and in major European Capitals celebrating the impact of Reagan policies in promoting freedom and democracy.
In the years since the Reagan Administration, Ryan has been very close to Nancy Reagan and is said to advise her on important matters. In May 2013, he was Nancy Reagan's personal representative at the official funeral service for former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London.
White House Historical Association
Ryan has served as a Director of the White House Historical Association since 2001 and became Chairman in 2012. As part of the "Campaign for White House History", Ryan works with First Lady Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy and former First Family members of both political parties to provide funding for educational and preservation projects for the White House.
David M. Rubenstein, former White House aide and philanthropist, supported this effort through a $10 million gift to create the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History. Another major project of the fundraising campaign is the new White House Visitors Center.www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_press/index.php/press-releases/david-rubenstein
While working in the Reagan White House, Ryan was introduced to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. This led to a joint meeting of British and American Business Leaders that encouraged corporate social responsibility and support of private sector initiatives. Over the years since then, Ryan has served as a Patron of the Prince of Wales Foundation and as a member of the Board of Director of Duchy USA, the Prince's corporate initiative in the United States.
Ryan serves as Co-Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Presidential Libraries, a nonpartisan group formed by the Archivist of the United States. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the National Museum of American History, the Board of Councilors for the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at USC and the Ford's Theatre Board of Trustees.
A program obtained from the elite Alfalfa Club Dinner in January 2014 indicated that Ryan is the Secretary of that secretive organization.
Ryan is the editor of "Ronald Reagan: The Wisdom and Humor of the Great Communicator", published by Harper Collins in 1995, and "Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator", published by Harper Collins in 2001. He was also Executive Producer of the highly acclaimed video of the Reagan Presidency, entitled "The Reagan Years".
Appointment of Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., as Assistant to the President
November 4, 1987
The President today announced the appointment of Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., to be Assistant to the President.
Since February 1985 Mr. Ryan has been responsible for the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives as well as serving as Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling. Mr. Ryan began serving at the White House in February 1982 as Deputy Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling. In February 1983 he was appointed Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling. Mr. Ryan was previously an attorney with the Los Angeles law firm of Hill, Farrer and Burrill. While engaged in his practice, he published several articles on various aspects of the law.
Mr. Ryan graduated from the University of Southern California (B.A., 1977) and the University of Southern California Law Center (J.D., 1980). He was born April 12, 1955, in Tampa, FL. Mr. Ryan is married and resides in Washington, DC.
So the President and CEO of The Politico worked in multiple positions in the Reagan White House, and was continuously promoted until he rose to the level of Assistant to the President. And his close connection to the Reagan family and the Reagan presidency continues through today.
Are we supposed to treat this fact as irrelevant or something when assessing what The Politico is and what type of political coverage it churns out? There is nothing wrong per se with hard-core political operatives running a news organization. Long-time Republican strategist Roger Ailes oversees Fox News, of course. But it seems rather self-evident that a news organization run by someone with such clear-cut political biases ought to have a hard time holding itself out as some sort of politically unbiased source of news.
The Politico‘s biggest boosters are Matt Drudge and George W. Bush, and it is run by a Reagan loyalist. At the very least, those facts are worth considering. Given that Editor-in-Chief John Harris has repeatedly vowed to be more “transparent” in how they conduct themselves, shouldn’t we have some understanding of the role played by Ryan, and what his connection is to “Allbritton Communications,” whose “deep pockets” are (partially? fully?)
financing The Politico?
This is the first I’ve heard about what seems rather clearly to be the obviously significant relationship between Ryan and The Politico. Anyone with more information on these matters, please email me or leave such information in comments. The Politico is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent and influential national media organizations, and its odiousness has seemed for some time to be generated by more than just the standard dysfunction in our national press corps.
UPDATE: The Politico‘s primary (perhaps sole) funding source is the Allbritton Company, of which Frederick Ryan is an employee. The Allbritton family’s leader, Joe, was CEO of Riggs Bank when Riggs pleaded guilty to a series of illegal financial transactions with right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his brutal military that took place throughout the 1990s and into 2001.
Although Allbritton himself was never charged with knowledge of those illegal transactions, he maintained what appears to be a close personal and business relationship with the right-wing dictator (h/t Jonathan Schwarz):
When Joe L. Allbritton was chief executive of Riggs Bank, he received personal gifts from Augusto Pinochet and wanted the former Chilean dictator to visit the Allbritton horse farm in Virginia, according to drafts of letters from 1996 and 1997.
The drafts were found in the bank’s investigation of the relationship between Allbritton and Pinochet, whose government murdered or tortured an estimated 3,000 political opponents over 17 years. . . .
The two draft letters and memos do not show that Allbritton was aware of any illegal actions by the bank or its officers, but they indicate that Allbritton had a personal relationship with Pinochet and knew details of his business dealings at Riggs, according to sources who have read the documents. . . .
Since July, Riggs’s internal investigators have discovered that Pinochet’s relationship to Riggs was both deeper and longer than previously known, according to sources familiar with their findings. Since the July Senate hearing, Riggs has found photographs of Allbritton and Pinochet together and internal correspondence and letters to Pinochet and senior Chilean military officials that indicate Allbritton was personally involved in courting the former dictator as a Riggs client. . . .
“I am also grateful for our thriving personal friendship which you have demonstrated through your gracious hospitality and stalwart support of the Riggs,” Allbritton wrote in a draft dated November 1997, a year when Riggs was expanding its relationship with both Pinochet and the Chilean military. “I thank you for the marvelous gifts to both Barbie and myself, including the history books which I found fascinating.”
“Barbie” is Allbritton’s wife, Barbara, who was a director of Riggs Bank until early 2004,when she and her husband resigned as directors.
In the 1996 draft, Allbritton expressed his “profound thanks” for a reception Pinochet threw for Allbritton at a Chilean military academy where the men watched an equestrian demonstration by cadets. In his draft, Allbritton invited Pinochet and his wife, Lucia, to the Allbritton horse farm in Middleburg, Va. Allbritton also thanked Pinochet for “the superb cuff links you presented to me.”
According to this account, it is Joseph Allbritton’s 37-year-old son, Robert, who is financing The Politico. And the presence of his father obviously looms large:
[Robert] Allbritton has been studying the Washington media market from his perch as head of Allbritton Communications, a family-owned string of TV stations that includes Washington’s ABC affiliate, WJLA. The initials stand for Joseph L. Allbritton, the current CEO’s dad. . . .
I suppose some people would say that none of these facts — such as the fact that The Politico is run by a former and current Reagan official and financed by a family with close ties to one of the world’s most notorious right-wing dictators — is relevant to The Politico‘s claim of nonpartisan and objective news reporting. It may be the case that none of these facts, standing alone, is fatal to The Politico‘s credibility in that regard.
But taken together, they certainly seem worth noting, to put it mildly — and that is particularly so in light of The Politico‘s very inauspicious start as a constructive and unbiased source of journalism.
UPDATE II: When Joe Allbritton was CEO of Riggs Bank, Riggs, in 1997, purchased the company owned by President George W. Bush’s uncle, Jonathan Bush, and Jonathan Bush then became a top Riggs official serving alongside Joe Allbritton (h/t sysprog). That was discovered when, in 2004, Riggs agreed to “pay a record $25 million in civil fines for violations of law intended to thwart money laundering,” apparently allowing Saudi money, among others, to be laundered through its bank while both Allbritton and Jonathan Bush were its top executives.
This Washington Post article — entitled “The Bank of Dad” — details how Robert Allbritton’s entire career was shaped and molded by his father, who handed him everything (including the money he is now using to fund The Politico). Joe Allbritton — who is Texan — has all sorts of close ties to key Republican power centers, including the Bush family:
He donated the portrait of Reagan that hangs in the White House. Former president George H.W. Bush has attended Allbritton’s post-Alfalfa brunch. When George W. Bush’s inaugural parade passed the Riggs branch on Pennsylvania Avenue, he spotted Allbritton and said, “Hey Joe, how are you doing?”
But I’m sure the fact that The Politico is (a) funded by a family with multiple, intense right-wing allegiances, (b) run by a career-long Reaganite, and (c) dependent upon Matt Drudge for most of their traffic, has no effect whatsoever on their reporting.
UPDATE III: In addition to his long-time Reagan connections, Politico CEO Frederick Ryan was also (along with Jonathan Bush and Joseph Allbritton) himself a Board Member of Riggs Bank (h/t EJ). And Ryan, in addition to serving as Politico CEO, is also President of Allbritton Communications (a subsidiary of Allbritton Group, Inc., which in turn is a subsidiary of “Perpetual Corporation”).
To take a step back, the picture that emerges from all of this is both clear and familiar. As became evident when Augusto Pinochet died, support for Pinochet was one of those true clarifying issues dividing left from right throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Supporting Pinochet was a major plank in the Reagan foreign policy, and opposition to Pinochet was a major left-wing cause (which is why Fred Hiatt’s praise of Pinochet’s dictatorship was so revealing).
Like most billionaires with diverse business interests, Joe Allbritton had political relationships of all sorts. But the coterie around him — and those who created the Politico, including the Politico‘s current CEO — are plainly firmly entrenched in the right-wing political movement, with overlapping business and other ties to the Bushes, all kinds of international financial interactions with the Saudis and various right-wing governments, and long-standing ties of many kinds to the Reagan circle.
We hear incessantly about how this group or that group is funded by George Soros, as though that fact, by itself, proves the group’s political affiliations. But those groups do not purport to be nonpartisan newspapers or sources of news. The Politico claims exactly that. Surely it is notable that those who created The Politico, who are funding it, and who are in charge of its operations, are long-time Republican operatives and those firmly implanted in right-wing circles.
UPDATE IV: Politico CEO and President (and former Reagan official) Frederick Ryan donated $1,000 to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1999 (earlier this year, as linked above, Bush interrupted his press conference to flamboyantly plug Ryan’s Politico). When making that donation to Bush, Ryan listed his occupation as “Allbritton Communications Co.” (h/t Casual Observer). Both Joe Allbritton and his wife donated $1,000 each in 1994 to the Republican National Committee.
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