Fox News CEO Roger Ailes condemned the Department of Justice’s actions against his company as intimidation in a Thursday memo to his employees.
Ailes said the efforts would not succeed, and compared the Obama administration’s actions to the McCarthy era.
The Department of Justice labeled Fox investigative journalist James Rosen as a possible criminal “co-conspirator” in a leak of classified intelligence on North Korea.
It reportedly obtained Rosen’s private emails as a part of its investigation, which Attorney General Eric Holder himself signed off on, according to media reports.
The Justice Department charged Stephen Kim, an intelligence analyst at the State Department with passing on the information to Rosen. The information was on how Pyongyang would likely respond if the United Nations passed a resolution condemning the North Korea's nuclear program. Kim says he did not pass along the information.
The administration is also taking heat for Justice’s secret subpoenaing of Associated Press phone records revealed last week. Holder recused himself from that case.
President Obama on Thursday said he was concerned that investigations of national security leaks could “chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”
Obama has ordered Holder to review the Justice Department guidelines for investigating media organizations that could be involved in leaks of classified intelligence. The Justice Department will present the president with a report on investigating the media by July 12, Obama said.
Read the full letter below:
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. Sincerely,