Fixer (person)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

A fixer is a person who carries out assignments for another party or who is skillful at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage the term is neutral, meaning "the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done".[1] In journalism, a fixer is a local person who expedites the work of a correspondent working in a foreign country. In American usage, to describe a person as a fixer implies that their methods may be of questionable legality.[2] A fixer who disposes of bodies or "cleans up" physical evidence of crime is often more specifically called a cleaner. In sports, a fixer is someone who makes (usually illegal) arrangements to fix, i.e., manipulate or pre-arrange the outcome of a sporting contest.


Fixers may primarily use legal means, such as lawsuits and payoffs, to accomplish their ends, or they may carry out unlawful activities. The White House Plumbers have been described as fixers for Richard Nixon; their methods included break-ins and burglary.[3] Fixers who specialize in disposing of evidence or bodies are called "cleaners", like the character of Victor "The Cleaner" in the film La Femme Nikita, or the fictional Jonathan Quinn, subject of the Brett Battles novel The Cleaner.[4]

In Britain, a fixer is a commercial consultant for business improvement, whereas in an American context a fixer is often an associate of a powerful person who carries out difficult, undercover, or stealth actions, or extricates a client out of personal or legal trouble.[1][5] A fixer may freelance, like Judy Smith, a well-known American public relations "crisis consultant" whose career provided inspiration for the popular 2012 television series Scandal.[6] More commonly a fixer works for a single employer, under a title such as "attorney" or "bodyguard", which does not typically describe the kinds of services that they provide. For example, Michael Cohen was officially Donald Trump's personal attorney, but press accounts commonly describe him as Trump's fixer.[7][8] Cohen later stated that it was his "duty to cover up [Trump]'s dirty deeds".[9]

Sports match fixer[edit]

In sport, when a match fixer arranges a preordained outcome of a sporting or athletic contest, the motivation is often gambling, and the fixer is often employed by organized crime. In the Black Sox Scandal, for instance, Major League Baseball players became involved with a gambling syndicate and agreed to lose the 1919 World Series in exchange for payoffs.[10] In another example, in 1975, Boston mobster Anthony "Fat Tony" Ciulla of the Winter Hill Gang was identified as the fixer who routinely bribed jockeys to throw horse races.[11][12] Other insiders may also be fixers, as in the case of veterinarian Mark Gerard, who, in September 1978, was convicted of fraud for "masterminding a horse-racing scandal that involved switching two thoroughbreds" so that he could cash in on a long-shot bet.[11]

Journalism aide[edit]

In journalism, a fixer is someone, often a local journalist, hired by a foreign correspondent or a media company to help arrange a story. Fixers will most often act as a translator and guide, and will help to arrange local interviews that the correspondent would not otherwise have access to. They help to collect information for the story and sometimes play a crucial role in the outcome. Fixers are rarely credited, and often put themselves in danger, especially in regimes where they might face consequences from an oppressive government for exposing iniquities the state may want to censor.[13][14]

In modern journalism, these aides are often the prime risk mitigators within a journalist's team, making crucial decisions for the reporter. According to journalist Laurie Few, "You don't have time not to listen (to the fixer)", and anybody who disregards a fixer's advice "is going to step on a landmine, figurative or actual".[15] Throughout the last 20 years, fixers have ranged from civilians to local journalists within the regions of conflict. They are rarely credited and paid menially, which has begun a conversation for the compensation rights of these individuals. According to statistics gathered from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, the base pay for a fixer's time ranged from $50–400 USD per day.[15]

A map based on publicly accessible research data shows a visual representation of data collected from various studies conducted on both fixers and their journalist counterparts from over 70 countries. Gathered from the Global Reporting Centre, the survey demographic map had 132 respondents from North America, 101 from Europe, 23 from South America, Africa and Eurasia, 63 from Asia and 9 from Australia.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

Numerous films and several songs have been named The Fixer, and, as a genre, illustrate the different meanings of the term. Most commonly, they refer to the kind of person who carries out illicit activities on behalf of someone else. For example, the 2008 British television series The Fixer is about "a renegade group acting outside the law to bring order to the spiraling criminal activity in the country".[17]

A BBC Two documentary Alex Polizzi: The Fixer features a fixer in the benign British sense – a consultant who helps to turn around failing businesses.[18]

In the ABC drama Scandal, the main character Olivia Pope (portrayed by Kerry Washington) was a fixer and head of Pope and Associates, an organization that fixed political scandals and cleaned up crimes. Kerry Washington's character, Olivia Pope, is partially based on former George H.W. Bush administration press aide Judy Smith, who serves as a co-executive producer.[19]

In the AMC TV series Breaking Bad, the character Mike Ehrmantraut played by Jonathan Banks was the cleaner for Gustavo Fring's operations, later reprising the role in the series' prequel spin off, Better Call Saul.[20]

The 2016 Romanian drama The Fixer and the 2009 documentary Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi are each about journalistic fixers.[21]

In the Ubisoft videogame Watch Dogs, enemy players are known as fixers, and players can get contracts to eliminate other players, or carry out illegal jobs in game.

In several cyberpunk-themed tabletop role-playing game such as Shadowrun and Mike Pondsmith's Cyberpunk, fixers are intermediaries between clients and mercenaries, "well-connected fencers, smugglers, and information brokers who apply their trade on the black market,"[22] connecting mercenaries to jobs they prefer to take and other mercenaries in the network they can work with.[23]

Notable fixers[edit]




  • Bakhtiyar Haddad - Iraqi fixer for French reporter Stephan Villeneuve (Both killed in action in Mosul, 2014)[32]
  • Sayed Agha - Driver/Fixer in Afghanistan. Killed by Taliban. (Killed in action, 2011)[31]

Organized crime[edit]

Politics and business[edit]

Public relations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Definition of 'fixer'". Collins Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Definition of fixer in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  3. ^ Garment, Suzanne (April 13, 2018). "Cohen Makes Nixon's Fixers Look Like Amateurs". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Battles, Brett (2007). The Cleaner. Random House. ISBN 978-0-440-24370-0.
  5. ^ "fixer, noun". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  6. ^ McDowell, Jeanne Dorin (April 24, 2012). "Real 'fixer' behind 'Scandal' steps into spotlight". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Durkin, Erin (December 12, 2018). "From fixer to inmate: Michael Cohen reckons with his 'blind loyalty' to Trump". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  8. ^ Stracqualursi, Veronica (December 14, 2018). "Michael Cohen says Donald Trump knew hush payments were wrong". CNN. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  9. ^ "Cohen: My duty to cover up Trump's dirty deeds". CNN. December 12, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  10. ^ Linder, Douglas (2010). "The Black Sox Trial: An Account". University of Missouri, Kansas City. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Swenson, John (December 25, 2013). "The Sport of Kings Is Full of Scum". Vice Media. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Greatest Race-Fixer Of Them All", by Stuart Marques, The New York Sun, January 17, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ Clore, Kathlyn (February 4, 2009). "10 things journalists should know about fixers: Covering minorities". European Journalism Centre. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  14. ^ "In Journalism, what is a fixer?". WiseGeek. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Klein, Peter W.; Plaut, Shayna (November 16, 2017). "Fixing the Journalist-Fixer Relationship". Global Investigative Journalism Network. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Fixing the Journalist-Fixer Relationship". Global Reporting Centre. November 10, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  17. ^ "The Fixer (2008)". Kent Film Office. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  18. ^ Cumming, Ed (January 31, 2012). "Alex Polizzi: the Fixer, BBC Two, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Tucker, Neely (March 30, 2012). "ABC bases 'Scandal' on D.C. insider Judy Smith". Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Krzyzanowski, Jeanine (2010). "Q&A – Jonathan Banks (Mike "The Cleaner")". AMC Networks.
  21. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (March 9, 2010). "Movie Review – 'Fixer – The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi' – Ian Olds Documents an Interpreter's Fate in Afghanistan". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  22. ^ "Cyberpunk Roles: Fixer". Cyberpunk Central: The Guide. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  23. ^ T.J.L. "What is the difference between a fence and a fixer?". Role-playing Games Stack Exchange. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  24. ^ "Alex Polizzi: The Fixer". BBC. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  25. ^ "Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi poached by BBC for new show". The Daily Telegraph. London. July 1, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  26. ^ Durkin, Erin (December 12, 2018). "From fixer to inmate: Michael Cohen reckons with his 'blind loyalty' to Trump". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 13, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  27. ^ Newland, Christina (March 15, 2016). "The Truth About the Tyrannical Hollywood Fixer Who Inspired 'Hail, Caesar!'". Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  28. ^ Wood, Gaby (April 7, 2014). "Mickey Rooney's amazing sex life". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  29. ^ a b c "The real-life Ray Donovans: Fixers behind Tinseltown's dark secrets", by Tim Walker, Independent, July 14, 2013.
  30. ^ Avenue, Committee to Protect Journalists 330 7th; York, 11th Floor New; Ny 10001. "The Fixers". Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  31. ^ a b c d Lees, Caroline (September 1, 2016). "Under the wires: Local "fixers", who help foreign correspondents on the ground, can face death threats and accusations of being spies after working for international media". Index on Censorship. 45 (3): 8–11. doi:10.1177/0306422016670328a. ISSN 0306-4220.
  32. ^ "Third journalist dies after Mosul blast". June 24, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  33. ^ Sidney Korshak, 88, Dies; Fabled Fixer for the Chicago Mob, The New York Times, January 22, 1996
  34. ^ Goldstein, Warren (November 9, 2003). "The Fixer". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
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  37. ^ Scott, A.O. (September 19, 2019). "'Where's My Roy Cohn?' Review: A Fixer's Progress". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  38. ^ "Russian charged with Trump's ex-campaign chief was key figure in pro-Russia strategy". CNBC. Associated Press. July 3, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  39. ^ Briquelet, Kate (April 17, 2018). "The Trump Super Fixer Who 'Knows Where All the Bodies Are Buried'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  40. ^ Hillyer, Quin (January 25, 2019). "The FBI's ridiculous riot gear and pre-dawn raid on Roger Stone was excessive and unnecessary". Washington Examiner. Washington D.C.: Clarity Media Group. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  41. ^ "Meet Michael Sitrick: The 'fixer' you call when your reputation is on the line | Financial Post". October 19, 2013.
  42. ^ "Judy Smith, real-life 'fixer' behind 'Scandal,' steps into spotlight – Los Angeles Times". April 24, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2012.