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Desson Thomson
Desson Patrick Thomson[1][2]

1958 (age 65–66)
Alma materAmerican University
Occupation(s)Journalist and speechwriter

Desson Patrick Thomson is a former speechwriter for the Obama administration and former film critic for The Washington Post. He was known as Desson Howe until 2003 when he changed his name after reuniting with his birth father.


Thomson attended American University from 1975 until 1979, graduating in Spring 1980 with a degree in visual communications and cinema studies. He started working for The Washington Post in 1983 as a copy aide for the Style section, and by 1984 was writing freelance articles for the paper. In 1987 he became a film critic for the paper.[3] He was one of the few film critics in the country to write a positive review of The Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, [1] and wrote many well received film tributes including one to Richard Pryor [2]. He has frequently acknowledged writing one of the few negative reviews of The Shawshank Redemption..[4]

Thomson left the Washington Post in 2008, and in 2010 became a speechwriter in the administration of President Barack Obama.[5] From February 2010 until November 2010 he was stationed in London working for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis Susman. In December 2010, he joined the Policy Planning Office of the U.S. Department of State as a speechwriter for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In February 2012, he became a speechwriter and Senior Advisor for Content Development for the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Until September 2017 he was a speechwriter and senior advisor for Charles H. Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.


  1. ^ West, Michael J. (October 22, 2021). "Cairo Fred is many things, just don't try to categorize it". The Washington Post. p. 6. "Thomson is a political speechwriter and former film critic for the Washington Post. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  2. ^ "Desson P. Thomson, United States Public Records, 1970-2009. FamilySearch.
  3. ^ Reichley, Melissa (February 2005). "Alumni Profile: Desson Thomson". American University. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11.
  4. ^ Howe, Desson (September 23, 1994). "'The Shawshank Redemption' (R)". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (February 2, 2010). "Former Post film critic joins Obama administration". The Washington Post.