Yesterday afternoon on Fox News, host Shepard Smith issued a stunning statement. In a chat with judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, Smith took apart the revelations about Justice Department snooping into the communications of Fox News reporter James Rosen, a story broken by The Post.
The big news in the case came from a court affidavit in support of a search warrant for a Gmail account that, according to The Post article, belonged to Rosen. The purpose of the snooping was to investigate the alleged leaking of Stephen Kim, an official working at the State Department on arms control issues related to North Korea.
The feds, as it turns out, were interested in reviewing correspondence on a Gmail account used by Rosen. The targeting of that account was clear from the affidavit’s title: “APPLICATION FOR SEARCH WARRANT FOR E-MAIL ACCOUNT [REDACTED]@GMAIL.COM MAINTAINED ON COMPUTER SERVERS OPERATED BY GOOGLE, INC., HEADQUARTERED AT 1600 AMPHITHEATRE PARKWAY, MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA.” An attachment to the document specifies “ITEMS TO BE SEIZED” and focuses on the Gmail account.
Yet on “Studio B,” Smith alleged a far broader and more disturbing federal reach: “They went into our computer servers at Fox News, went around our security, pulled things out, and didn’t tell us they’d done so.”
When asked about that contention, William Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, noted in a statement that the Justice Department is “not publicly identifying the news organization or the reporter involved in the Stephen Kim investigation. That information remains under seal.” That said, Miller noted:
The search warrant obtained from the court in this case was solely for a Gmail account – housed on Google’s servers – under an alias of the reporter that had previously been used to covertly communicate with Mr. Kim. No computer servers of any news organization were searched in this investigation.
Fox News hasn’t responded to an inquiry about Smith’s allegation. Though the network has a history of not responding to the Erik Wemple Blog, a clarification on air or to some other media reporter would help in this case, lest all of Smith’s loyal viewers come away thinking that the federal government essentially hacked its way into Fox News’s computer system. Then again, perhaps Fox News is content leaving such an impression.