Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ May 23 stirring letter to Fox employees will be remembered as a turning point in the battle for freedom of the press in the age of Obama.
The Ailes letter, denouncing the Obama administration’s trampling on the First Amendment, should be seen, of course, as a strong defense of Fox correspondent James Rosen. In addition, the Ailes letter–in truth, a manifesto–is a staunch vindication of Fox News and its “speak-truth-to-power” approach to journalism. Finally, the Ailes Manifesto should be seen as a clarion call for freedom–for freedom of the press, and also for the right of all Americans to think freely, liberated from the MSM thought-monopoly.
As Patrick Caddell has pointed out here at Breitbart News, the Obama Administration has never truly been worried about leaks, because the Administration itself has been the main source of leaks. Why? For political advantage, of course. That is, to make the Administration look good, especially in regard to the war on terror in the run-up to the 2012 election.
The Obamans wanted to maintain their exclusive “franchise” on leaks, rewarding friendly reporters, such as The New York Times’ David Sanger, with information on highly-classified programs, including the Stuxnet virus used against Iran. In fact, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, upon reading Sanger’s book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, said, “You learn more from the book than I did as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and that’s very disturbing to me.” In other words, US national security was a distant second, well behind the primary goal, which was the President’s re-election.
To be sure, the Obama Administration leaked for other reasons, as well. As Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle reported, the Obama Justice Department was happy to leak documents to advance its own interests in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
It is obvious that the Obama Administration will leak any information regardless of its sensitivity to national security or to individuals’ reputations when it is expedient for political gain. The facts are incontrovertible, over a broad range of issues, over a long period of time.
While the Obama administration has been playing this dangerous game, Roger Ailes has been clear and straightforward. The Ailes Manifesto is, indeed, fierce in its defense of freedom. As the Fox News founder–at the helm, now, for 17 years–wrote:
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.
Even amidst the greatest threat to press freedom in six decades, neither Fox, nor its friends and allies, are going to back away, or back down. The fight for freedom is a fight for all of us.
Indeed, as the Ailes Manifesto continues to reverberate through the media and political landscape, we can observe three kinds of reaction: first, strong awareness and support from the activist public; second, a surprising amount of solidarity from the other journalists and journalistic organizations; and third, a cringing U-turn by some notorious Obama administration lackeys and lapdogs.
So let’s look at each of these three categories in turn.
First, support from the activist public. Social media showed a huge outpouring of support for reporter Rosen and the Ailes letter. “Ailes’ letter give you a sense of him as a boss,” one Twitter user said. “Kind of man that inspires real loyalty out of respect.”
“Simply put, Roger Ailes, a true principled Leader,” said another. One response read, “The Roger Ailes memo might be the most badass thing I’ve ever read.”
Another reader remarked, “Roger Ailes sounds downright Churchillian.”
Second, others in the MSM have chosen to side with Fox, at least on this one issue. Urged on by press leaders–including Fox News’ Ed Henry, who said to fellow pressies, “let’s not be a bunch of lemmings”–many MSM-ers have chosen to do the right thing, even if it pains them. As Joel Pollak noted, stalwart liberal Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon.com was moved to tweet, “I understand lib cognitive dissonance on Obama admin going after Fox reporter, but only right answer is #TeamRosen.”
Fox News Opinion summed up much of this diverse media support in a May 23 compendium titled, “They All Stand with Fox News’ James Rosen.” The piece took note of supportive comments from staffers of CNN, The New Yorker, The Washington Post–even former anchor Keith Olbermann. Remarkably, the tabloid-y TMZ, not known for its political coverage, had to agree that the controversy, and the Ailes Manifesto, constituted a hot story.
On May 21, the White House Correspondents Association issued a strong statement:
Reporters should never be threatened with prosecution for the simple act of doing their jobs. The problem is that in two recent cases, one involving Fox News’ James Rosen and the other focused on the Associated Press, serious questions have been raised about whether our government has gotten far too aggressive in its monitoring of reporters’ movements, phone records, and even personal email.
Meanwhile, the support keeps coming. On Saturday, The Washington Post wrote a tough pro-Rosen editorial titled, “The freedom to ask,” in which the Post quoted the Justice Department’s own stated policy on leak investigations, which declares, “The prosecutorial power of the government should not be used in such a way that it impairs a reporter’s responsibility to cover as broadly as possible controversial public issues.” The Post then added, “The Obama administration should recommit to its spirit.”
Third, even some of Obama’s most groveling fans have had to adjust course in light of the new knowledge about his administration’s bullying methods. In fact, support for Ailes and Fox has been so broad and strong that even mortal enemies of Fox have had to come around, however grudgingly. For example, Media Matters for America (MMFA), the George Soros-funded anti-Fox smear operation run by David Brock, has been forced to do a 180 from its original pro-Obama position.
On May 14, as the news about the Justice Department investigations was breaking, MMFA slavishly published talking points in support for the Obama administration. In other words, the MMFA Obama-propaganda operation was trying to teach others how they, too, could be Obama-propagandists. Yet after a firestorm of criticism, MMFA shifted its position, albeit over ten long days.
On May 24, MMFA Senior Fellow and Andrew Breitbart bête noire Eric Boehlert, reflecting this new line, complained that “federal law enforcement seems preoccupied with snooping around, in increasingly clandestine ways, and ensnaring reporters in criminal investigations.” Well, yes; better late than never.
Boehlert continued in this manner, even allowing for the heretical thought that Fox News might not be at fault in everything:
Whether it was the Department of Justice’s wild overreach in seizing phone records of more than 20 separate telephone lines used by Associated Press editors and reporters, or the Department’s more focused, yet even more troubling, information grab of a Fox News reporter, the practice is wrong and shortsighted. It’s also un-American.
One can only imagine the drama inside MMFA before those anti-Obama Administration words were printed on its site. Which was more gut-wrenching for David Brock, criticizing the Obama Administration or defending Fox News from it?
Of course, as Pollak wrote, the pro-Ailes/pro-Fox sentiment, while welcome, is unlikely to last for long:
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.
Still, Ailes and Fox have made their point, and it will be an enduring point. The impact of the strong Ailes Manifesto and the unyielding Fox stance may be felt only briefly among the MSM, but it will remembered forever in conservative, libertarian, and constitutionalist circles.
On this Memorial Day, these words of Ailes have it exactly right:
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.
And we here at Breitbart News might humbly add: it’s a high honor to be an American on the same side as Roger Ailes, James Rosen, and Fox News, in this historic fight for freedom. Together, we will win, because victory begets victory.