Kessler, Glenn

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Kessler, Glenn


Married; children: three. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1981; Columbia University, M.A., 1983.


Home—McLean, VA. Office—Washington Post, 1150 15 St. N.W., Washington, DC 20071.


Former managing editor, Corporate Financing Week and Wall Street Letter; former editor, Investment Dealers Digest; Newsday, New York, NY, reporter, 1987-98; Washington Post, Washington, DC, national business editor, 1998-2000, reporter, 2000-02, diplomatic correspondent, 2002—. Member, Council on Foreign Relations.


Page One Award, Newspaper Guild, 1989; Atrium Award, Society of the Silurians, 1990; Premier Award, Aviation/Space Writers Association, 1992; Pulitzer Prize (corecipient), 1992, for a report on a subway crash, 1997, for a report on the crash of TWA Flight 800.


The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Award-winning journalist Glenn Kessler has enjoyed a successful career as a magazine editor and newspaper correspondent in New York City and Washington, DC. In a profile of Kessler by George Miller in the Brown Daily Herald, the reporter noted that he had been enamored of the idea of becoming a journalist from the time he was in the fifth grade. He recalled that even back then he "liked being a witness to history." While attending Brown University, though, his journalism experience was limited to taking sports photos for the school newspaper. At the time, he reasoned that he wanted to gain experiences other than newspaper writing, which he would be doing for the rest of his adult life. This, he learned after graduation, was a mistake, because he had no sample articles to present to prospective employers. Kessler decided to continue college, earning a master's degree in international relations from Columbia University that would prove useful. He wrote for the financial tip sheet the Wall Street Letter and continued his financial journalism background as a managing editor for Corporate Financing Week and editor of Investment Dealers Digest.

Newsday hired Kessler in 1987 to be its business editor, and later he led teams in New York City and Washington, DC, gaining experience covering politics, as well as other national events. Among other important stories, he covered the 1987 stock market crash. During his time at Newsday he won several journalism awards, including as corecipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, in 1992 and 1997, for covering a story on a subway crash and then the crash of TWA Flight 800, respectively. "Kessler's investigative articles on airline safety," a writer for the Watson Institute for International Studies Web site reported, "led to the indictments of airline executives and federal officials for fraud, prompted congressional hearings into safety issues and led the federal government to impose new safety rules for DC-9 jets and begin regular inspections of foreign airlines." In 1996, Kessler also led the Newsday team in covering the presidential elections and became a White House correspondent.

Kessler first met Condoleezza Rice in 1992 at the Republican National Convention. At the time, she had left politics temporarily and was teaching at Stanford University. In 2000, she would be selected by President George W. Bush to be his national security advisor, and in 2005 she succeeded Colin Powell as secretary of state. It is on the first two years of Rice's service as secretary of state that Kessler's debut book, The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, focuses. Kessler has admitted that he initially felt "star struck" when he first met the bright and talented Rice, according to an article by Anthony Lewis in the New York Times Book Review. And, on a personal level, he described the secretary of state as "a very charming and graceful person. She is very polite. She is very friendly," as he observed in an interview with Neal Conan on the radio program Talk of the Nation. As a prominent politician, however, Rice has many failings, which Kessler details in his book.

A central theme in The Confidante is that Rice, a scholar of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, was influenced by Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to President George H.W. Bush, to be a realist in matters of foreign policy. Once she began operating as a trusted associate of the next President Bush, however, she transformed into an idealist. As with the president, she apparently came to believe that the United States should pursue a visionary quest to transform autocratic states into democracies modeled after the American ideal. This new position has led to numerous miscalculations in foreign policy on Rice's part, Kessler shows in his book. For example, her inability to form a coherent policy with North Korea led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations, and her reversal on the emphasis on democracy in Palestine after the extremist group Hamas won elections there was an embarrassing error in judgment. Kessler also blames Rice for failing to advise President Bush to create a strategy for the possible military occupation of Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Not all the content of the book is negative, however, and Kessler does take time to acknowledge Rice's diplomatic successes, such as her efforts to weaken the use of secret prisons by the CIA.

While The Confidante, according to Carolyn O'Hara in the New Statesman, "fails to answer satisfactorily what is perhaps the most vexing mystery about Rice: her intellectual transformation from hard-core realist to ambitious idealist while at the White House," a Publishers Weekly critic wrote that the "balanced, detailed text" provides "invaluable insight into Rice's rise to power." An Economist contributor similarly felt that the book offers "a fascinating account of how diplomacy is conducted up close." O'Hara concluded: "What emerges is a portrait of an intelligent and confident woman, proficient at negotiation, who seems to lack any strategic vision about how to accomplish the ambitious democracy agenda that her boss desires as his legacy."



Anonymous Liberal, January 24, 2007, "Thank You Glenn Kessler."

Booklist, August, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, p. 4.

Brown Daily Herald, November 6, 2007, George Miller, "Kessler '81 Critical of Rice."

Economist, August 18, 2007, "The Dazzler That Dimmed: Condoleezza Rice," review of The Confidante, p. 73.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Confidante.

New Statesman, November 5, 2007, "Stuck in Reverse Gear," review of The Confidante, p. 57.

New York Times Book Review, November 25, 2007, "The Enabler," review of The Confidante, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of The Confidante, p. 46.


Columbia Journalism Review Online, (April 17, 2008), "Glenn Kessler on Fact-Checking Candidates, Getting Off the Bus, and Reporters Who Are Ahead of the Curve."

Professor Kim's News Notes, (February 12, 2007), Kim Pearson, "Glenn Kessler on the Stand."

Watson Institute for International Studies Web site, (November 5, 2007), review of The Confidante.


Talk of the Nation (radio broadcast transcript), September 5, 2007, Neal Conan, "New Biography Recounts Rice's Rise to Power," author interview.