I have greatly admired the work of James Rosen over the years. He seems to me a classic old-fashioned reporter, as the events of the past week have strongly suggested. And while working his day job at Fox News, he also wrote an intensely interesting biography cum history, The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate.
Rosen’s biography of Mitchell was unjustly neglected upon its publication in 2008. It appears not even to have made it into a paperback edition. Nevertheless, the book is excellent. Rosen is a talented researcher and the book represents a labor of love. He started work on the book in 1991, seventeen years before it was published, with the support of “the late, great William F. Buckley, Jr.” and his “mentor” and “friend,” Dan Rather, as Rosen puts in his acknowledgements.
Oh, yeah, one more thing: the subject is incredibly timely. Rosen’s work on the book perfectly equips him to place his current ordeal in the proper context.
Fox News chief Roger Ailes has sent the following memo of support to Rosen and his fellow Fox employees. It leaves a lot unsaid about the larger context of the Obama administration’s assault on Fox News, but it rings all the right bells:
The recent news about the FBI’s seizure of the phone and email records of Fox News employees, including James Rosen, calls into question whether the federal government is meeting its constitutional obligation to preserve and protect a free press in the United States. We reject the government’s efforts to criminalize the pursuit of investigative journalism and falsely characterize a Fox News reporter to a Federal judge as a “co-conspirator” in a crime. I know how concerned you are because so many of you have asked me: why should the government make me afraid to use a work phone or email account to gather news or even call a friend or family member? Well, they shouldn’t have done it. The administration’s attempt to intimidate Fox News and its employees will not succeed and their excuses will stand neither the test of law, the test of decency, nor the test of time. We will not allow a climate of press intimidation, unseen since the McCarthy era, to frighten any of us away from the truth.
I am proud of your tireless effort to report the news over the last 17 years. I stand with you, I support you and I thank you for your reporting with courageous optimism. Too many Americans fought and died to protect our unique American right of press freedom. We can’t and we won’t forget that. To be an American journalist is not only a great responsibility, but also a great honor. To be a Fox journalist is a high honor, not a high crime. Even this memo of support will cause some to demonize us and try to find irrelevant things to cause us to waver. We will not waver.
As Fox News employees, we sometimes are forced to stand alone, but even then when we know we are reporting what is true and what is right, we stand proud and fearless. Thank you for your hard work and all your efforts.