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Theo Baker


Theo Baker


Theo Baker (born 2004 or 2005) is an American investigative journalist for The Stanford Daily, the student newspaper of Stanford University. In 2023, he became the youngest recipient of the George Polk Award for his reporting that led to the resignation of Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

Reporting

As a freshman reporter at The Stanford Daily, Baker began publishing stories in November 2022 about accusations that Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne had altered images used in research papers, leading to a formal investigation from the university. Baker learned about the accusations through the scientific review website PubPeer and brought them to scientific integrity expert Elisabeth Bik. A lawyer representing Tessier-Lavigne sent letters to Baker, describing his reporting as "replete with falsehoods".

In July 2023, the final university report found that Tessier-Lavigne's research "fell below customary standards of scientific rigor and process" but did not constitute fraud. Baker subsequently published another story that the investigating panel did not grant some witnesses anonymity, so they were unable to testify because of active non-disclosure agreements. Tessier-Lavigne announced his resignation as Stanford's president on July 19, 2023, with multiple major news outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, characterizing it as a direct result of The Stanford Daily stories.

In late March 2024, an article by Baker, titled 'The War at Stanford,' was published in The Atlantic. The article discussed the response of Stanford University to the October 7 Attack, arguing that the attack was not adequately condemned. Similarly, Baker asserted that pro-Palestine students' rhetoric led to antisemitism and created a culture of fear for Jews on campus. The article also mentioned an instance where a Stanford student allegedly advocated for violence against President Biden, an action some, like journalist Glenn Greenwald, denounced as a form of doxxing. The article was criticized by others on the basis of its portrayal of student protestors, alleging a biased narrative ignoring islamophobia and the plight of Palestinians. Jonathan Chait later published a piece in New York Magazine responding to this criticism, suggesting progressive attacks were motivated by viewpoint outside the mainstream and that critics were espousing "illiberal left-wing thought."

Awards

In February 2023, The Stanford Daily received one of the 2022 George Polk Awards for its reporting on Tessier-Lavigne, the first time an independent, student-run newspaper has won the award. The Polk Awards gave Baker a "Special Award", making him the youngest ever Polk awardee. He has also received a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Personal life

Baker is from the Washington, D.C., area and is the son of journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. He is a graduate of Phillips Academy Andover.

Baker is often portrayed as a "nepo baby", benefitting from the status of his parents in the journalistic world. He denounced the criticisms, saying while he was fortunate to have good role models, he strived to keep his parent's influence "entirely separate" from his reporting. Baker told Teen Vogue that he had previously said he would never become a journalist but changed his mind to "feel connected to [his] late grandfather, who passed just two weeks before [he] started at Stanford, and who would always sit down and talk about his time doing student journalism." On May 4, 2024, as a Stanford student, Baker received widespread attention on social media for initiating a public feud with Stanford professor of political science Hakeem Jefferson. In two separate e-mails and several social media posts, Baker demanded that Professor Jefferson delete a social media post that Baker perceived to criticize the Journalistic objectivity of Baker's father.

References


Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Theo Baker by Wikipedia (Historical)