A standoff between what Fox News believes to have occurred over a Justice Department leak investigation involving one of its reporters and the Department itself and Fox’s parent, News Corp, is leading to further mystery.
The matter involves the seizure of phone records from a Fox News reporter and which the Justice Department say they notified News Corp about two years ago, as the parent of Fox and in accordance with the Department’s standard procedure. However Fox say News Corp did not tell them about the matter.
The subpoena in respect of the phone records came as a result of the Justice Department’s investigation of Stephen Kim, a former State Department worker who was accused of the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information to James Rosen, a Fox News reporter.
The Wall Street Journal reports that The parent company, News Corp didn’t tell Fox about the notification, the Fox official said.
This new detail helps clear up a mystery at the heart of the continuing controversy over the government’s actions. Over the past week, officials at Fox have denied they were notified of the phone-record subpoenas, while law-enforcement officials insisted they were. It appears the reason for the discrepancy was that the notice was sent to News Corp.
A News Corp. spokeswoman confirmed the company was notified in August 2010 and said it was looking into the matter.
Previously, a law-enforcement official had said the government alerted Fox in August 2010 about how investigators had subpoenaed a list of incoming and outgoing calls for five media-related phones as it built its case against former State Department contractor Stephen Kim.
Mr. Kim has been charged with leaking the details of a secret U.S. report on North Korea, details that were reported by James Rosen of Fox. Mr. Kim has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.
The searches of Mr. Rosen’s phone records and his personal email by federal investigators became public knowledge only this month, after the government notified the Associated Press it had subpoenaed phone records for its reporters and editors in an unrelated leak probe. The government also alerted the AP to its actions, three months after the records were seized.
The leak investigations have prompted criticism from media companies and First Amendment advocates who say the government actions are chilling officials’ willingness to talk to reporters.