Ronn Torossian Hired to do PR For Turkey; Is He Really an Armenian?

Ronn Torossian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

The website Medium.com posted two articles by Louise Neu revealing that Ronn Torossian had signed a contract to represent Turkey as its PR agent! Torossian is President of the 5W Public Relations firm based in New York City.

Justice Department records indicate that Torossian signed the agreement on May 25, 2017. His firm will get paid an additional $60,000 for the period of May 16-Nov. 16, 2017, which is automatically renewable for another six months. This payment is in addition to the amount specified in the contract signed on August 10, 2016.

It is noteworthy that Torossian signed the agreement with Turkey nine days after Pres. Erdogan watched his bodyguards beat up a group of demonstrators in front of Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC. Three days after the protesters were beaten and injured, Torossian published an article in The Algemeiner, titled: “Deport Radical Islamist Preacher [Gulen] and Maintain American Interests.”

Interestingly, Louise Neu revealed that Torossian had written another article in Newsmax on Feb. 17, 2017, criticizing the media coverage of Michael Flynn’s resignation. Ironically, Torossian had written an earlier article in Newsmax on May 20, 2015, critical of PR Firm Levick Communications’ work for the Embassy of Qatar, in which he stated: “There are those who feel it is OK to spin for dictators and terrorists. Yet, this writer [Torossian] agrees with the owner of the world’s largest PR firm, Richard Edelman, who said, ‘PR is not like the law — Not everyone deserves representation.” Contradicting himself, Torossian engaged in the hypocritical action of defending the interests of Erdogan, the dictator of Turkey!

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian

In addition, Torossian wrote on January 27, 2017, in The Observer, published by Pres. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, criticizing PR firms that “whitewash repressive regimes….” He concluded: “dictators and terrorists don’t deserve any PR help.”

I called Torossian’s office twice. Each time a staff member assured me that he would return my call. I never heard from him. Louise Neu had a similar experience when she tried to reach Torossian. When she tweeted him about his connections to Turkey and Trump associates, Torossian tweeted back: “I shot JFK! My ex-wife is Russian!!!! I even ate caviar this week!” Torossian is not only impolite in not responding to phone messages, but he is reported to have a bad temper against his employees and others! The New York Times described him as “brash and aggressively outspoken.” He is also reported to have business dealings with shady Jewish and Russian oligarchs, according to Louise Neu. Even though Torossian has an Armenian last name, I was not able to confirm if one or both of his parents are Armenians, or neither one!

Ronn Torossian is also “a partner, Chief Marketing Officer and advisory Board member of JetSmarter,” according to his Linkedin profile. JetSmarter is a controversial company described as “uber for planes.” The CEO of JetSmarter is Sergey Petrossov, the son of Vatchagan Petrossov, who definitely has an Armenian name.

The main reason I was interested in Ronn Torossian’s employment as a PR agent for Turkey is that there was a similar situation with Barry Zorthian who worked from October 1980 to February 1984 for the lobbying firm of Gray and Co., hired by Turkey. Zorthian was a former executive for Voice of America and Time, Inc. In 1968-69 he was the chief U.S. spokesman in Saigon, Vietnam.

After I had become aware that Zorthian was simultaneously an executive at a lobbying firm for Turkey and Board Member of the Armenian Assembly of America, I called him to ask if his dual roles did not create a conflict personally or for his firm. As a sign of respect for a fellow Armenian, I cautioned him that if he answered my questions, it could lead to his dismissal from his job. Zorthian, 63, replied that he did not care if he lost his $65,000-a-year job as senior vice president of Gray and Co. He went ahead and honestly answered all my questions. Zorthian explained that he worked in the public relations office and not on the Turkey account which was handled by the firm’s lobbying department.

As soon as my article was published on the front page of the California Courier on January 19, 1984, the Turkish newspaper Tercuman reported my interview with Zorthian which caused a great embarrassment to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, finding out that an Armenian-American was a top executive for the lobbying firm that was getting paid $300,000-a-year by Turkey.

On Feb. 21, 1984, the lobbying firm’s vice chairman, Alejandro Orfila, told Zorthian that the Turkish Ambassador Sukru Elekdag was extremely irate reading the newspaper report. Orfila quoted Amb. Elekdag stating: “I hired you guys to help me with my political problems, and instead you’re creating problems for me… You must do something drastic that I can report back to my government or else I’ll be forced to cancel the contract.”

The PR firm’s chairman, Robert K. Gray, cut his vacation short in Acapulco, Mexico, and immediately returned to Washington. Zorthian was fired after rejecting Mr. Gray’s request to resign.

Even though I was not pleased to see Mr. Zorthian lose his job, but as a young reporter who had started working as a journalist six months earlier, it was very satisfying that my obscure article made the headlines in Turkey and came to the attention of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Amb. Elekdag. Furthermore, the Washington Post wrote a lengthy article on April 13, 1984, quoting from my article and mentioning my newspaper as the source of this international controversy.

I urged Zorthian to file a lawsuit accusing Gray and Co., of employment discrimination due to his national origin. Zorthian did file charges with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights, claiming he was illegally fired because of his Armenian background.

Unfortunately, I do not know the outcome of Zorthian’s lawsuit. Both he and his wife have passed away since then.

If Mr. Torossian is truly an Armenian, how could he do PR for Turkey? More importantly, how could Turkey hire him given Mr. Zorthian’s experience?

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11 Comments

  1. Armen said:

    This was on Wikipedia
    Nationality: American, Israeli

    Torossian was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in The Bronx and attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City.[2] While at SUNY Albany, Torossian became national president of the North American branch of Betar,[6] the international Zionist youth movement associated with Israel’s Likud party.

  2. Sergik said:

    There is two possibilities, either he is a traitor and sells his nation for money and does not care about Armenians or he is going to work against Turkey and screw them up. let’s hope he is the latter.

  3. Vic said:

    If you’re hoping this article will have the same impact as the one you had written about Mr. Zorthian, you are ignoring the fact that Ronn Torossian is the President of the 5W Public Relations firm, while Barry was just an employee worked at Gray and Co.

  4. State of Emergency said:

    If Mr. Torossian is truly an Armenian, how could he do PR for Turkey?….$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    Just as some people importing Azeri apples and selling to unsuspecting Armenian consumers.

  5. serop said:

    This man is no Armenian, somehow he has an Armenian surname, but he is 100% Jewish
    He was national president of the North American branch of Betar, the international Zionist youth movement associated with Israel’s Likud party
    He is a vile individual and like most of his type in the PR field in NY will sell his soul for a few gold coins

  6. sonia smolensky said:

    according to WIKIPEDIA Ronn Torosoan is Jewish born in Brooklyn N Y 1974

  7. Avo said:

    Terrible. And common nowadays.

    Here is the latest hogwash from part-Armenian Ian Bremmer in Time magazine:

    “At the same time, the leaders of other emerging powers–not just Russia but also democracies like India and Turkey–are following China’s lead in building systems where government embraces commerce while tightening control over domestic politics, economic competition and control of information.”

    http://time.com/5006971/how-chinas-economy-is-poised-to-win-the-future/

  8. Peter M. said:

    Barry Zorthian was always a class act and a role model for all Armenian-Americans in his line of work or just getting their start. In 1989, I lived in D.C. and was the producer for a national PBS interview show, “John McLaughlin’s One on One.” Mr. Zorthian had seen my name in the credits and gave me a call to shoot the breeze and impart some wisdom. We need more Barry Zorthians.

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