All day long, Fox News has been giving extensive air time to a Post story on a federal investigation involving Fox News reporter James Rosen. A federal probe, reported The Post, was looking into Rosen’s attempts to get information from Stephen Kim, an official working at the State Department on arms-control issues relating to North Korea.
Nestled against recent news that the Justice Department aggressively and secretly subpoenaed the phone records of the Associated Press, The Post’s report said the following about the activities of federal investigators in the Rosen case:
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
A lot of questions jump to mind here, among them: How many times has the federal government tried to make the case that a reporter in search of killer information could be considered an “abettor” of a crime, as it does in this case? Does the government stand by that reasoning?
And a curious question with fewer ramifications: How did Fox News get scooped on a Fox News story? The network did issue a statement, one suggesting that it was blindsided on the matter:
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter. In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
In a discussion today with host Megyn Kelly, Fox News reporter Shannon Bream said, “As far as I know, it was a surprise to everyone when we read the details in the Washington Post about just how extensive and in-depth this had been.” No contact from the government, said Bream.
The case itself hasn’t been a secret: In June 2011, New York Times reporter Scott Shane shed some light on it. The lede of the story:
WASHINGTON — Stephen J. Kim, an arms expert who immigrated from South Korea as a child, spent a decade briefing top government officials on the dangers posed by North Korea. Then last August he was charged with violating the Espionage Act — not by aiding some foreign adversary, but by revealing classified information to a Fox News reporter.
Lots of unanswered questions, like any case involving the media and national security leaks.
Who knows why Fox News didn’t know about key developments in a case involving their own reporter. But there’s another question here: Why didn’t Fox News pounce on the story after it realized that the Washington Post was nosing into things? The Post’s story makes clear, after all, that it contacted Fox News about the matter. Reporter Ann Marimow, who did the story, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that she reached out to Fox News last Friday. To little avail, as it turns out: “Rosen and a spokeswoman for Fox News did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment,” reads a line from the story.
Had Fox News’s flacks simply returned Marimow’s inquiries, they could have squeezed her for some intelligence on the goods she’d acquired via court records. Then, perhaps, they could have gotten ahead of the Washington Post’s scoop. Open up, Fox News!