Former executive claims Fox News had 'black ops' department
Published 21/07/2011 | 05:00
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News television channel had a "black ops" department that may have illegally hacked private telephone records, a former executive for the station has alleged.
Dan Cooper, who helped launch Fox News as managing editor in 1996, said that a so-called "brain room" carried out "counter-intelligence" on the channel's enemies from its New York HQ, and that he was threatened after it found he had spoken to a reporter.
The channel, which has come under pressure amid allegations that outlets owned by Mr Murdoch may have attempted to hack the voicemail messages of 9/11 victims, firmly denies all the allegations.
Mr Cooper, who left Fox News soon after its launch, provided a quote for a 1997 article about Roger Ailes, Fox News's president, by the journalist David Brock in 'New York' magazine.
The quote was not going to be attributed to him, but he alleges that before the article was published, his agent received a telephone call from Mr Ailes threatening to withdraw Fox's business from all his clients.
"There are only two possible ways Ailes found out," Mr Cooper said. "Either Brock told him or they got hold of Brock's phone records and saw I spoke to him."
Mr Cooper said he was "willing to consider the possibility" that Mr Brock named him, but added: "I assume he operates under journalistic ethics and protected a confidential source. Brock told me at the time that Ailes told him he would never work again if he wrote the article."
A Fox News spokesman said: "Dan Cooper has peddled these lies for the past 15 years." (© Daily Telegraph, London)