As you may have seen, Chief Washington correspondent James Rosen left Fox News just before Christmas a few weeks ago. He’d been with the news organization for 18 years, so his departure seemed like an abrupt move.
However, we may now know why he suddenly left the organization.
NPR – The network cited no reason for Rosen’s exit and did not announce it on the air. According to Rosen’s former colleagues, however, he had an established pattern of flirting aggressively with many peers and had made sexual advances toward three female Fox News journalists, including two reporters and a producer. And his departure followed increased scrutiny of his behavior at the network, according to colleagues.
This story is based on interviews with eight of Rosen’s former colleagues at the Fox News bureau in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Rosen declined to comment to NPR after it set out in detail what it intended to report.
Here’s the gritty details:
Current and former Fox News Washington journalists characterize the Washington bureau as retaining something of a Mad Men ethos, with some male reporters frequently sending racy “topline” notes through the network’s internal messaging service.
The accusations against Rosen, who is married with young children, are more severe than that. He developed a reputation as a talented and ambitious journalist called “the professor” on the air by former political anchor Brit Hume for his interest in Watergate (Rosen wrote a book focusing on the life of former Attorney General John Mitchell that argued for a kinder reassessment of his role in that Nixon-era scandal). Rosen has sent such messages, according to his former female co-workers. But in three instances he made overt physical and sexual overtures, according to the accounts of numerous former Fox News colleagues who heard about the incidents contemporaneously.
In the winter following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, a female Fox News reporter joined the bureau from New York. In a shared cab ride back from a meal, Rosen groped her, grabbing her breast. After she rebuffed his advance, Rosen sought to steal away her sources and stories related to his interests in diplomacy and national security. That’s according to four colleagues who say she relayed the episode as a warning about Rosen’s behavior. The reporter declined to comment for this story. (NPR has decided not to name the women in this article as they have not granted permission to do so.)
In a subsequent episode several years later, a female producer covering the State Department alleged that Rosen had directly sexually harassed her. A foreign national, she subsequently accepted a deal from Fox that enabled her to extend her stay in the U.S. in exchange for not making her complaint public, according to several of her former colleagues. The producer, who now works for a foreign-based news organization, is abroad with family and did not respond to several detailed messages left by email and phone seeking comment.
Late last spring, Rosen turned his attention to a younger female reporter, according to two colleagues who say she told them of the incident shortly afterward. Returning from a lunch together, Rosen physically tried to kiss her in the elevator ride back to the office, and once refused, attempted forcibly to kiss her again. According to a colleague, he then asked the reporter to keep the approach quiet and offered her unsolicited help in getting more time on Bret Baier’s nightly political newscast, Special Report. The female reporter declined to comment for this story.
Rosen was one of my favorite reporters at Fox News. He seemed to have good sources and exposed several political stories that we’ve written about here, so much so that Obama started listening in on his phone calls and those of his family trying to find his sources.
And now we find out that his character didn’t match his high quality reporting. Ugh.
I hate to see people unfairly convicted in the court of public opinion, but it does seem based on this reporting and his abrupt departure that there is credence to the fact that he was a sexual harasser. And I hate it for his family too. He’s married with young children and now they have to deal with this being public.