Fox News parent company News Corp. says they were never they have no record of being notified by the Justice Department nearly three years ago of a subpoena for the telephone records of an FNC reporter.
The company’s chief legal counsel at the time also said that he had never seen material from the government related to the subpoena.
The Justice Department has signaled that it notified News Corporation on Aug. 27, 2010, that it had seized the phone records of a Fox News reporter — who turned out to be the Washington correspondent James Rosen — after one of his articles had included details of a secret United States report on North Korea.
The seizure was part of the department’s case against Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department contractor investigated in connection with the North Korea leak. Mr. Kim has pleaded not guilty to leaking information and is awaiting trial. Fox News has denied that it knew about the subpoena, while Justice Department officials have said they sent notification 90 days after obtaining the records.
A law enforcement official said on Sunday that in the investigation that led to the indictment of Mr. Kim, “the government issued subpoenas for toll records for five phone numbers associated with the media.” This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added, “Consistent with Department of Justice policies and procedures, the government provided notification of those subpoenas nearly three years ago by certified mail, facsimile and e-mail.”
A Fox News executive said the channel had never heard of the Justice Department investigation and had no knowledge of New Corporation ever being notified. A News Corporation spokesman said Sunday that the company was looking into the matter of notification. “While we don’t take issue with the D.O.J.’s account that they sent a notice to News Corp., we do not have a record of ever having received it,” Nathaniel Brown, the spokesman, said.
Last week, The Washington Post obtained an affidavit that described Mr. Rosen (without naming him) as “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” The investigation relates to a 2009 article Mr. Rosen published on FoxNews.com that quoted a source describing missile activity in North Korea.
In e-mail to employees on Thursday, Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of Fox News, rejected the validity of the investigation. “We will not allow a climate of press intimidation, unseen since the McCarthy era, to frighten any of us away from the truth,” Mr. Ailes said.
Lawrence A. Jacobs, who was News Corporation’s chief legal officer until he left in June 2011, said he never saw a notification about the phone records.
“I would have remembered getting a fax from the Justice Department,” Mr. Jacobs said in an interview Sunday. “These are not the kinds of things that happen every day.”
He added, “The first thing I would’ve done would be to call Roger Ailes.”