Media Matters Chief Suggests Fox News Hacked Emails Too

In the wake of allegations that Fox News obtained the phone records of journalists, the president of a prominent media watchdog group says he’s aware of allegations that phone and email records of his employees were obtained.

“We know there are allegations of email and phone records being obtained, but do not know precisely how. It’s part of our internal review now,” Media Matters President Bradley Beychok told The Daily Beast.

On Friday morning, journalist Gabriel Sherman reported in a lengthy exposé for New York magazine that Fox’s general counsel, Dianne Brandi, “hired a private investigator in late 2010 to obtain the personal home- and cellphone records of Joe Strupp,” a reporter at Media Matters. (Brandi denied the allegation through a spokesperson). That fall, Strupp had written several articles quoting anonymous sources and Fox and the cable channel wanted to know who they were, Sherman reported.

Beychok said Strupp may not have been the only target. “We are not sure of how widespread the issue may be in regards to our employees. However, in addition to Joe Strupp there is at least one other current Media Matters colleague who we have reason to believe also had their phone records obtained.”

It’s not clear how Fox News could have legally obtained a third-party’s phone or email records without his or her consent. In 2006, Hewlett-Packard used private investigators to impersonate board members and journalists so that the company could obtain their phone records, a form of deception known as “pretexting.” Congress subsequently banned the practice.

—Shane Harris