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Saturday, August 3, 2013

James Rosen: Blundering Biographer or Enemy of the State?

My latest Watergate book
Lately the federal government has been having a bit of fun at the expense of James Rosen, the Fox "News" Channel's Chief Washington Correspondent. Over the past fifteen months Not Now Silly has also been having a bit of fun at the expense of James Rosen. Not that he doesn't deserve it. Rosen wrote, and stands behind, his historical revisionist doorstopper of a book about John Mitchell and Watergate, "The Strong Man."

My first chapter, Aunty Em Ericann's Bun Fight With James Rosen of Fox "News," tells the HIGH-LARRY-US story of my earliest real life encounter with Rosen, who reached out to me first under the nom de tweet "cutebeatle." cutebeatle was having a very public spat with someone who knows far more about Watergate than he does: John W. Dean. Hilarity ensues.


In the subsequent Twitter exchange with Rosen, I took up his challenge to read his book for myself and not be bullied by "ex-felon" John Dean. In point of fact, I kind of felt bullied by Rosen to read his book. He made me promise TWICE before he would finally agree to play Beatles Trivia with me. In addition to Watergate, Rosen also pretends to be an expert on The Beatles. Yet he failed my simple two-part question: Who did The Beatles say was their favourite 'Merkin musician and who did they say was their favourite 'Merkin band?*

Then I also proved I also know more Watergate trivia than he does because, when I started asking Rosen uncomfortable questions about his book, he blocked me. Later he claimed -- through an intermediary, because that's how he rolls -- that he blocked me because I wrote about him for NewsHounds. That's true. It's still online and you can read how I tagged Rosen in a post called “Happening Now” Drops Pretense At Objectivity When James Rosen Reads Right Wing Tweets To Defend Limbaugh. However, if he blocked me over that, he needs to get a thicker skin. I was just doing my job.

Still, my many questions about his silly book The Strong Man have gone unanswered.

After I was finished reading James Rosen's book I had a few questions. They are marked with yellow Post-It notes.
Eventually, after follow-up questions and phone messages were ignored, I decided to write the 2nd Chapter of this sad story. My more recent post asks the musical question Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe 'Merka? Rosen's big mistake was to challenge me to read his book. Watergate is a subject I know intimately, possibly second only to my Beatles knowledge.

While reading Rosen's book I laughed and took notes. I flagged every falsehood. I took notice of every example of loaded language I could find. I also marked every shading away from the truth. If you know little about the era, the Nixon White House, and/or Watergate you might feel that Rosen exonerated Mitchell of any possible connection to any possible crimes that may, or may not have, occurred before, during, and after Watergate, not limited to his stint as Attorney General, 'Merka's top law enforement officer.

When I was done reading The Strong Man it looked like it does in the photo above. Out of the MANY questions I have for James Rosen, I summed up the book's mendacity in that one blog post. It's reason enough to have Rosen's so-called book laughed out of the marketplace of ideas like David-Barton has been

While my beard has gotten longer, James Rosen's
book has gotten falser, if that's even possible
It's still an important question to ask because its about treason committed by Richard Nixon before he was elected President. It's also about whether James Rosen wittingly, or unwittingly, participated in a cover-up of Nixon's treason when he wrote his book. Classified recordings released since Rosen wrote his book proves the assertions on page 61 of The Strong Man are false.

However, it's not just recordings released since Rosen wrote his book that debunk page 61. The recently released recordings merely prove conclusively a fact that has been known for decades. That's why the bullshit on page 61 of Rosen's book is now the yardstick against which anyone can judge how terrible Rosen's book really is. I call it the Chennault Challenge and it can be done with almost any Watergate-related book.

F'rinstance: I recently acquired a used copy of the hardcover pictured at the top left. "Perfectly Clear; Nixon From Whittier To Watergate" was written by Frank Mankiewicz in 1973. That's a year before Nixon resigned the Presidency and, for the record, 35 years before James Rosen wrote his joke of a book.

Turning to the index of Perfectly Clear, on page 234, under the Cs, sandwiched between Checkers Speech [36, 61-63] and Chicago Seven [138] is the entry Chennault, Anna [14]. Flipping to page 14 reveals these two paragraphs filled with unintended irony:
Sticking with a good story even after it has been proven false is a habit with Nixon. He told every White House staffer who would listen, apparently, that he had been wiretapped by Lyndon Johnson in 1968, a story he ascribed to J. Edgar Hoover. But Johnson had never caused Nixon's phone to be tapped. Theodore S. White and others had reported that Nixon had been overheard advising Anna Chennault, an old China (and Nixon) hand, to encourage President Theiu of South Vietnam not to go to the conference table before the 1968 election, but to wait for a better deal with Nixon. The tap was placed on Chennault's phone, and as James McCord was to learn, it's almost as good to be overheard on someone else's tap as it is to be tapped yourself.
The tap on Chennault's phone may have been illegal, since it is not clear whether the attorney general (Ramsay Clark at that time) ever signed an approval for it. But if any national security wiretappping is legal, that one was. After all, the lady was advising a foreign government to go back on the solemn agreement it had reached with her government. If that isn't a matter of national security, then what is?
All of that info has since been proven, with a few caveats: LBJ had, in actuality, bugged Nixon's campaign plane over national security concerns, which turned out to be true. Whether Chennault's phone was tapped as well is unknown. However, the tape recording referenced above is of LBJ and his aides discussing Nixon's treason. First they listen to a recording from the bug on Nixon's campaign plane, where the treason with Anna Chennault was discussed. Then LBJ and his advisers turn to discussing whether to release the evidence of Nixon's treason. In the end they decided not to because it would have been hard to explain why they had bugged Nixon's campaign plane. They did, however, give all the info to Hubert Humphrey, who never used it because he thought he was going to win the election.

James Rosen has brown eyes because he's full of shit
Yet 35 years after Mankiewicz blew the whistle on Nixon's treason with Anna Chennault, this is the bullshit that James Rosen attempts to peddle to his brain-dead readers who will accept his historical revisionism at face-value:
A source close to the [Anna Chennault] affair -- who demanded anonymity -- strongly challenged the veracity of the prime witness. "Simply do not trust what Anna Chennault says about this incident," said the source, a senior policy adviser to Nixon and other GOP politicians in later years. "She manufactured the incident, then magnified her self-importance."
She caused untold problems with her perpetual self-promotion and, actually, self-aggrandizement, because she was only interested in the money. I do not put it in the realm of fantasy that she was paid by the SVs [South Vietnamese]; she had them bamboozled, believing she was an authentic and important "channel" to the campaign. John Mitchell . . . did not have the bullocks to kiss her off, a tough and persistent woman who could grind you down. . . . . Anna thought of herself as a puppet master. She had no assignment, no tasks, and was an over-the-transom type that can never be suppressed in a campaign.
Yet the Chennault affair continued to haunt Nixon's presidency. His infamous orders to burglarize the Brookings Institution, issued in the summer of 1971 following publication of the Pentagon Papers and never carried out, stemmed from the president's concern that the Washington think tank possessed documents related to "the bombing halt" -- a euphemism for Nixon's and Mitchell's own back-channel machinations to counter it.
Got that? An anonymous source tells Rosen a fact known by every Watergate buff for 35 years -- everyone but James Rosen, apparently -- is not true, and he prints it uncritically. The same anonymous source tells Rosen that Anna Chennault is a liar, despite the tapes that back up her story, not to mention the dozens of Watergate-related books that do the same, and Rosen doesn't question it at all. Then the anonymous source has the audacity to suggest "the bombing halt" is merely a ephemism for Nixon's and Mitchell's attempt to combat a myth about Anna Chennault, even though every available piece of evidence released since Watergate says it's fact, not myth, yet Rosen repeats it without comment.

It begs the question, "What did James Rosen know and when did he know it?"

As early as 1973 Mankiewicz debunked what Rosen would write 35 years later. If I knew it was a lie when I read it, why didn't Rosen know when he wrote it? Not only did Rosen's source lie to him -- and I refuse to believe Rosen didn't really know the truth -- but Rosen gives his source anonymity, the only source in the entire book afforded that protection. We don't know who to blame for this bullshit, but the ultimate responsibility is Rosen's. Why would he be so reckless with the truth? 

Animation by author from public domain stills.
In my post Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe 'Merka? I make the case that Rosen's anonymous source is his current boss, Roger Ailes. Many years before Ailes headed up Fox "News," he was the media consultant for Richard Nixon. Ailes worked under John Mitchell during the re-election campaign and his absence from a biography of Mitchell is conspicuous. Ask yourself this: Who is left from those olden days who still has a motive to cover up Nixon's treason? Ask yourself this: For whom else other than Roger Ailes would Rosen throw out 35 years of Watergate scholarship to sell a known lie?

And, as I say, this is only one of the many questions I have about the veracity of Rosen's book.

So, covering up for treason didn't seem so far away from being an enemy of the state, or something. When Rosen made headlines for all the wrong reasons in May I could only shake my head thinking there had to be more to this little dealie from the Washington Post about a federal investigation into the leaking of top-secret information:
The court documents don’t name Rosen, but his identity was confirmed by several officials, and he is the author of the article at the center of the investigation. Rosen and a spokeswoman for Fox News did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Reyes wrote that there was evidence 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.

Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a “covert communications plan” and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information.

[...]

He [Rosen] also wrote, according to the affidavit: “What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking news ahead of my competitors” including “what intelligence is picking up.” And: “I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses.”

Court documents show abundant evidence gathered from Kim’s office computer and phone records, but investigators said they needed to go a step further to build their case, seizing two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal e-mails — and all of his e-mail exchanges with Kim.

Privacy protections limit searching or seizing a reporter’s work, but not when there is evidence that the journalist broke the law against unauthorized leaks. A federal judge signed off on the search warrant — agreeing that there was probable cause that Rosen was a co-conspirator.

While Fox "News" played the victim card, ask yourself: Would a journalist who covers up for his boss' participation in treason have any problem helping someone leak top-secret information? I report, you decide.

By the way: My favourite part of the story is when Rosen says in one of his emails, "What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking news ahead of my competitors . . ." Rosen doesn't even bother to claim, as many journalists and whistle-blowers before him have done, that he is in service of the greater good. No, James Rosen just wants to trump the competition and he doesn't care how he does it, even if it's trolling for top-secret information:

"I'd like to see some internal State Department analyses."

Well, gee! Who wouldn't? Which begs another question.Is James Rosen a blundering biographer or an enemy of the state? I report, you decide.

* The correct answer to both parts of the question is Harry Nilsson and this song is the reason why: