by Jeff Swanson
First, let’s get this out there; all presidents have people they call enemies. It doesn’t matter which party. The party in the White House is a party pro tempore. Enemies are a fact of White House politics.
It’s what the president does with an enemy that matters.
Once, not so long ago, President Obama’s campaign advisor and occasional ad hoc spokesman, David Axelrod, stated that Fox News was “not really a news station”. For what it’s worth; ABC, CBS and NBC are largely entertainment, nonetheless we used to take their news seriously. You may also recall that Fox has often been left out of the TV appearance rounds made by White House spokespersons when big news breaks.
Ah, the good old days…where it was just a little antipathy and childish games.
Now it’s Fox Reporter James Rosen for doing little more than what Woodward and Bernstein did with Nixon a la Watergate; investigating and reporting.
Though widely reported, Rosen was pursued by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice for being as “either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” for supposed security leaks.
The concurrently scandalous AP leak story wherein the AP was getting some news out a day before a campaigning Obama could make the announcement of a failed al Qaida plot. The high crime of the AP was being able to scoop the President.
Back to the Rosen story; what say the crime of Mr. Rosen?
Accoring the the UK’s Guardian, “Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests – something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.”
North Korea? Nuclear tests?
In 2006, the The Korean Central News Agency stated, “The field of scientific research in the DPRK (North Korea) successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, Juche 95 (2006), at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation…The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks an historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability.”
Which begs the question; what on earth was so scandalous about reacting to a North Korea threat of nuclear testing? In 2009 no less! Rosen was seemingly either as an ‘aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator’ for stating the obvious.
The great Rosen crime was that he asked Mr. Kim for information. Recalling the pursuit of Julian Assange, he of Wikileaks, Salon.com stated, “Very rarely do investigative journalists merely act as passive recipients of classified information; secret government programs aren’t typically reported because leaks just suddenly show up one day in the email box of a passive reporter. Journalists virtually always take affirmative steps to encourage its dissemination. They try to cajole leakers to turn over documents to verify their claims and consent to their publication.”
Still, the court papers claimed that Rosen, by virtue of asking Stephen Kim for info, did something wrong. Legally wrong.
Recall the aforementioned AP story? While similar to the Rosen story and arguably more chilling to the First Amendment than Rosen (if the Administration goes after the ‘in the bag for Obama’ AP, who won’t they go after?), the AP was never in danger of anything criminal. The DOJ investigation was just taking a look under the hood, though quite invasively.
The shock of the Fox/Rosen scandals is that it was for something so, well, dumb. North Korea saber rattling with Nuclear tests is no more a secret than who shot JR. The real question is why something so non-newsworthy became such a priority for the adminstration?
To be sure, the reason for the AP story was pretty silly; the President got beat to the punch. Still no reason to go after the AP.
Moreover, for Rosen, he had what was tantamount to a complete non-scoop. You have to then simply accept that it was the Obama Administration seeking vengeance.
The Obama Administration came to office with what we now see as a hackneyed claim of ‘the most transparent administration in history’. On the internet, kids reply to such things with the phonetically typed ‘pfffft‘.
The reality was that Obama was using ‘just words’. They always have been just that. Even the venerable White House correspondent Helen Thomas referred to an Obama Healthcare event as ‘more tightly controlled than any previous administration dared’.
What is evident is that this administration loves to control the message. This works when you are running for state senate or a community organizer but when you have the scope of all that is the United States Federal Government at your feet, you no longer have a scope of an organization you can control. Even with the Fourth Estate in your back pocket…and now Obama’s even hacked them off a bit.
As often Obama does, when he can’t control a message, he demonizes the source. This time, his administration went way too far and tried to prosecute. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the Obama Administration was legally tangled with Fox News.
The miscalculation is that, while Obama can deride Rush Limbaugh publicly, aggressively pursuing a less publicly known reporter for doing what reporters always do, steps over a line. I may disagree with Obama regarding Limbaugh but I get why he would not like Rush. Limbaugh makes a living from conservative talk and thereby undermines a liberal agenda…simply by his opinion.
Rosen was reporting facts and well known ones at that. Rosen was never a target of anyone’s anything. Going after him simply because he was a member of Fox was a grand miscalculation.
In the eyes of Obama, your crime is not agreeing and that’s enough to bring the full weight of the government down upon you. Whether the IRS with the Tea Party or James Rosen, a reporter just doing his job.
A president not steeped in moral and ethical consistency was never going to adhere to any rule before him, legal or constitutional. He has proven this time and again. If you are an Enemy of the Obama estate, be sure you have a good lawyer.