Fox News President Roger Ailes blasted the Justice Department Thursday for targeting journalists as if they were criminals and said the government's seizure of reporters' emails and phone records would not stand "the test of law."
"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," Ailes, a former media and political consultant to President Ronald Reagan, wrote in a "memo of support" to Fox News employees.
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"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," he added, referring to the FBI's tracking of James Rosen in connection with a leak investigation.
Reports of the FBI's tracking of Rosen's movements, phone, and email conversations with a government source followed the disclosure last week that phone records of Associated Press reporters had been seized as part of another Justice Department probe of leaked government information. But unlike the AP reporters, Rosen was named as a "co-conspirator" by FBI officials in a warrant authorization request approved by Attorney General Eric Holder that allowed the search of Rosen's emails.
In his memo, Ailes referred to the Justice Department's actions as an Obama administration "attempt to intimidate Fox news and its employees." He said it would not succeed and that their excuses for targeting reporters would "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," he wrote.
Ailes expressed his pride in the Fox News operation and thanked employees for what he called their "tireless effort to report the news."
"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 right of press freedom," he continued. "We can't and 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."
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