Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Aunty Em Ericann's Bun Fight With James Rosen of Fox "News"

Pic: Fair [and Balanced] use
I didn't start it, but those who know me, or those who have grown to know and love Aunty Em Ericann, know that I won't walk away from a fight. Johnny Dollar, aka Mark Koldys, is not the only person I've had a had a pissing match with on the interwoven nets lately. My Canadian friends won't know James Rosen, Chief Washington correspondent for FOX "News" Channel. My 'Merkin friends might know him only too well. Despite watching Fox "News" so you didn't have to, Rosen hadn't really registered on my radar until he reached out and introduced himself to me.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  It all started with a Tweet to John W. Dean. [Those who have known me a long time, and my obsession with President Richard Nixon, know what a thrill it is just to be able to say that.]


Wait!  What?  A Fox “News” person?  No kidding, Dean?  I happen to write about those.  I was in too much of a hurry to even glance at the name of the author when I bought the book.  I was merely using a bookstore to get from A to B more quickly when I spotted the book on a remainder table. Even with half his face cut off, I clearly recognized John Mitchell, President Richard Nixon’s Attorney General.  Here was a Watergate book I hadn’t seen before, even though I’ve always considered myself something of a Nixonphile.  I was born in Detroit in 1952, the year Nixon was first elected Vice President, and I have always felt a bizarre connection to the man.  By the time I was eight years old, with President Kennedy entering the White House and President Eisenhower leaving, Nixon was already a source of fascination to me.  [I had no hobbies, apparently.]  His winning the presidency in 1968 only added to my interest.  By the time he was reelected in ’72, I was already living in Canada and watched his presidency fall apart from afar.  Hours were spent watching the Watergate hearings instead of going to college classes.  By the time Nixon resigned it was clear to me that he made a Faustian bargain in order to become president.  That’s when I started reading books by and about Richard Nixon and Watergate. 

Some of my Nixon books. There are Nixon books behind the books.


On the day Richard Nixon died I happened to be in a K-Mart in Oak Park, Michigan when a woman started berating me about Richard Nixon, seemingly out of the blue.  It took almost 10 seconds to realize I was wearing my original 1972 “President Nixon Now More Than Ever” button on my denim jacket, where it had been for many years.  I’ve never worn it since.

Here's the truth: When I saw the John Mitchell book I grabbed it to add to my Nixon collection (pictured above). I stood in line, even though I was already running late.  After I paid for it I stuffed it in my knapsack without a second glance and hot-footed it to my appointment.  Later it occurred to me to tell John W. Dean about my new purchase.

Pic by Westerfield
As soon as Dean warned me off reading it, I ran to my knapsack, pulled out the book, and saw that the remaindered sticker covered the name of James Rosen, “Chief Washington correspondent for FOX ‘News’ Channel,” as the Fox web site puts it.  It seemed like ironic synchronicity that I was holding a book written by someone at Fox "News" when my side-vocation was to write about Fox "News" for NewsHounds. I told my BFF John Dean that I would read it anyway, since I read just about anything Watergate related, even the prison apologia/biography of Nixon, written by my former-countryman (until he renounced his Canadian citizenship) Conrad Black, or as I like to call him Lord Black of Black Bottom.

[BTW: “Tit in a ringer” is not sexist; it’s inside Watergate, inside John Mitchell, inside baseball talk.  If it needs explanation, it’s not worth it.]

And, that was that...or so I thought.

The next day I received the following tweet from the book’s author, who thinks himself some kind of Beatles expert. 

Oh man, this is GREAT!!! I have John Dean and James Rosen arguing over my head on Twitter. The gang at the coffee shop certainly heard all about THAT the next day. All those days of skipping college classes to watch the Watergate hearings, and reading all those books, is finally paying off. Meanwhile, I'm not intimidated by a cutebeatle or anyone else at Fox "News." If there's one thing I know more about than Watergate, it's The Beatles. So, I changed the subject and challenged Rosen with a Beatles trivia question.



Okay, maybe I made it worse with my next tweet.  And, maybe it was hubris on my part to also add Paul McCartney to my Beatles trivia challenge, but there it is:


And there it is, the gauntlet drawn. James Rosen will only play Beatles trvia with me if I promise to read his book and not be cowed by John Dean. Why do I suspect there is bad blood between Rosen and Dean and why do I feel that reading The Strong Man will provide the answer? But I don't have time for that because there's Beatles trivia with which to stump Rosen. Note my clue: You Can't Do That.

And there we have it. I must have convinced Rosen that I would read his book because he finally deigns to play Beatles trivia with me.


Rosen's second guess was Sophie Tucker, which if you know Beatles trivia isn't that crazy an answer. But it was still wrong.  Rosen never attempted a 3rd guess, arguing instead that at the '64 press conference The Beatles said Brian Wilson was their fave and at the '66 press conference The Beatles said "Sophie Tucker" was their fave group. I had to remind cutebeatle about the '68 press conference, when The Beatles were announcing the formation of Apple, they were asked their favourite 'Merkin singer and they replied, "Harry Nilsson" and then were asked who is their favourite 'Merkin group and they answered "Harry Nilsson," which is how I discovered Harry Nilsson for myself.

So...I thought me and Rosen had a good thing going. Days later, a s I began reading his book we were still exchanging tweets back and forth, mostly Harry Nilsson-related at my instigation. Now I would see what the NYT and Doris Goodwin Kearns raved about.

Then several things occurred almost simultaneously:
  • I started asking James Rosen uncomfortable questions about The Strong Man;
  • I was besting him in Beatles trivia;
  • I told him an off-colour joke about President Nixon [It's a pretty good joke. Rosen tweeted out that they had just released Nixon's love letters. I told him that Nixon had watched Deep Throat 6 times because he wanted to get it down Pat. Buh Duh Boom!];
  • Wrote about him for NewsHounds, when he pulled the 21st Century Equivalent of the age old Fox "News" tactic of "Some people say" by reading anti-Obama tweets on the air. What was I to do? I couldn't cut Rosen any slack just because he was now my Twitterific buddy.
Soon afterwards I learned that James Rosen, Chief Washington correspondent for FOX "News" Channel, had a very thin skin because he blocked me on Twitter. However, for a while I didn't know why. It could have been "All of the above" for all I knew. [He eventually cleared it up. It was "D."]

Meanwhile I was reading Rosen's book on John Mitchell just like I promised. Because so many things jumped out at me while I was reading it, I marked each one with a yellow Post It note. This is what the book looks like now that I have finished. Every one of those yellow slips is a question I have for cutebeatle.

However, more to the point, I believe I have unmasked Rosen's secret source. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had their Deep Throat, the secret source that was later revealed to be Mark Felt, 2nd in command at the F.B.I., who kept them on the right track. Rosen appears to have his own Deep Throat, a secret source to whom he guaranteed anonymity. It comes early in The Strong Man, on page 61: "A source close to the [Anna Chennault] affair--who demanded anonymity--strongly challenged the veracity of the prime witness." This is backed up by endnote 66, which reads: "E-mails from [a confidential source] to the author, January 21, 2003, 6:16 p.m.; and Wednesday January 22, 2003, 3:25 p.m."

Here's where we get into the weeds on Nixon. Rather than do that here, I am going to write a full review of The Strong Man by James Rosen, but I wanted to provide the background to why I would even bother to review a 4-year old book. Not only do I think Rosen made an overt challenge that requires a response in the form of a review, but now there are two other factors driving me: 
  1. It's a book that deserved greater attention and condemnation when it was released. It's full of contradictions, loaded language, softening of misdeads, and attempts to place the blame for Watergate on lower-downs; 
  2. I can break some news. I can not only expose Rosen's confidential source, but can also explain who still has a reason to cover up Nixon's misdeeds and why all these years later this confidential source still doesn't want the public to know what happened way back then.
However, I miss playing Beatles trivia with cutebeatle.

Further reading on Not Now Silly:

Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe 'Merka?