Fox News chief Roger Ailes’s letter to his employees is a battle cry that will echo beyond the Avenue of the Americas.
“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,” he wrote.
Already, Fox News has found some unlikely allies–even in the left media. Salon.com’s Washington, DC correspondent, a frequent critic of Breitbart News, tweeted his support for Fox reporter James Rosen, who is being treated like a criminal (literally) for the routine practice of reporting on American foreign policy:
I understand lib cognitive dissonance on Obama admin going after Fox reporter, but only right answer is #TeamRosen.
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) May 20, 2013
As liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz noted Thursday, there cannot be one rule for Fox and another for the New York Times. And there are enough journalists even in the mainstream media who are beginning to recognize the dangerous game of divide-and-rule that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are playing.
The Huffington Post, of all outlets, called for Holder’s departure, citing a report that he had signed off on the surveillance of Rosen–and listing, in red, a series of other grievances that had been quietly suppressed until the Obama administration’s brazen assault on media freedom became impossible to ignore or wish away.
Ailes wrote: “As Fox News employees, we sometimes are forced to stand alone.” But more and more fellow journalists are standing with them–even if just to maintain credibility. It is a cause impossible to ignore.
What is particularly noteworthy about Ailes’s response is that it is the first time in a very long time that Fox has felt emboldened to fight back against the Department of Justice in a direct and forthright manner. The phone hacking scandal at the UK’s now-defunct News of the World, a fellow News Corp. subsidiary, led the Attorney General to investigate News Corp.’s U.S. arms for potential involvement. Arguably, Fox was more timid in the 2012 election cycle as a result–just as Tea Party groups were less active under IRS scrutiny.
Now that Holder has been caught in a hacking scandal of his own–first of telephones at the Associated Press, then of Rosen and other Fox News journalists–the playing field is leveled.
And even though the wider media solidarity with Fox News is doomed to be short-lived, from now on the White House will face bolder, fearless conservative media, confident in the knowledge that they are defending universal principles.