While many journalists rallied around FNC’s Washington Correspondent James Rosen after news broke that his emails and phone records had been subpoenaed by the Department of Justice, Reuters‘ media columnist Jack Shafer went a different route. He wrote a column criticizing Rosen’s newsgathering style.
In a blog post headlined “What was James Rosen Thinking?” Shafer asserts that Rosen could have kept his sources in the federal government secret had he been more… secretive.
Rosen’s journalistic technique, if the Post story is accurate, leaves much to be desired. He would have been less conspicuous had he walked into the State Department wearing a sandwich board lettered with his intentions to obtain classified information and then blasted an air horn to further alert authorities to his business. For example, one data point investigators used to connect Rosen with his alleged source, Kim, was the visitor’s badge the reporter wore when calling on the State Department offices. According to security records, Rosen and his source left the building within one minute of each other and then returned only several minutes apart inside the half-hour. A few hours later that day (June 11, 2009), Rosen’s secret-busting story was published.
Even teenagers practice better tradecraft than this when deceiving parents.
Shafer goes on to offer tips on what “a smart reporter” would do. His suggestions included using modes of communication other than email to converse with government officials. He concludes: “I doubt that Rosen has committed any crimes against the state, but offenses against common journalistic sense? I’m not so sure.”
We’ve requested comment from three different FNC spokeswomen.