Is Fox News a stalwart defender of the press freedoms it depends on?
Well, that may depend on the year. It might even depend on who is the president.
In 2013, when Fox reporter James Rosen was targeted by the Obama Justice Department during a leak investigation, a top network executive was appalled. Naming Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator was outrageous, said Michael Clemente, who at the time was a Fox executive vice president for news.
“It is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press,” Clemente said.
But, at the beginning of this month, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he might find new ways to pursue news organizations that publish leaked information, some Fox staffers climbed right on board.
●“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade fanned the flames, publishing the results of his Twitter “poll,” in which he asked whether members of the media should be prosecuted for publishing leaked information. (With a leading question and no framing of the underlying issues, it was hardly a surprise that 52 percent voted yes and 23 percent voted no.)
●On “Fox and Friends,” weekend host Pete Hegseth agreed — “Absolutely!” — when Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka described the publication of leaked transcripts as “disgraceful.” (He was talking about recorded conversations between President Trump and two foreign leaders, published in The Washington Post.) An accompanying headline had a mocking tone: “Media melts down over leak crackdown.”
●Sean Hannity, ever loyal to President Trump, continues to decry leaks as the media’s way of taking down the commander in chief — and when he’s not trying to settle old scores against Hillary Clinton, he’s bashing news organizations with his favorite expression: “the corrupt media.”
●A Fox news story on Sessions’s announcement gave only the briefest of nods to press rights being under…