Fox News said that it was "outraged," after learning that the Justice Department obtained the personal emails of one of its reporters during the course of a 2009 leak investigation.
The Washington Post broke the story this morning, citing an sealed affidavit filed in The United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Post reports that the Obama administration was investigating the leak of an intelligence assessment of North Korea. It used internal State Department emails, a reporter's personal Gmail account, as well as records on who was walking in and out of Foggy Bottom to pinpoint two men: Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a government adviser, and James Rosen, a Fox News reporter.
That's not unusual. The U.S. investigates leaks all the time. What made this case, different, reports the Post, is that the government said Rosen had broken the law, "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator."
"That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target," the Post report.
Essentially, the Justice Department was saying that Rosen had broken the law doing what journalists do: reporting on government secrets.
Fox News executive vice president of news Michael Clemente reacted viscerally in a statement to Media Bistro.
"We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter," Clemente said. "In fact, 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."
Of course, all of this comes as the Obama administration is facing criticism over its surveillance of the Associated Press.
The administration defended its investigation. White House spokesman Jay Carney said during his daily briefing today that while Obama was a "defender of the First Amendment," he took leaks "very seriously because leaks can endanger the lives of men and women serving in uniform overseas."
Obama made similar statements last week.