Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

US TV journalists accused of being FBI moles

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh being escorted from the Noble County Courthouse in Perry, Okla. following his capture two days after an explosion rocked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Cuba's not the only one accusing journalists of being moles for U.S. intelligence. Investigations of FBI memos indicate journalists from ABC News and Fox News broke the sacred bonds of the reporter-confidential source relationship, acting as informants for the FBI in the 1990s.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) revealed earlier this week that a senior ABC News journalist was treated as a "potential confidential informant" for the FBI during the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing in the 1990s.

CPI's report is based on a once-classified FBI memo, which does not name the journalist, but recounts multiple meetings between the FBI and the journalist from 1995-1996. The memo also says the journalist provided the FBI with the name of a confidential source who had tipped off the news network about an Iraqi connection -- never confirmed -- to the April 19, 1995 bombing.

Politico confirmed that the alleged FBI informant was Christopher Isham, who currently is the vice president and Washington bureau chief for CBS News.

Isham maintains he was not an informant and did not cross any ethical boundaries. “The suggestion that I was an informant for the FBI is outrageous and untrue,” Isham said in a statement, as quoted by Politico. “Like every investigative reporter, my job for 25 years has been to check out information and tips from sources. In the heat of the Oklahoma City bombing, it would not be unusual for me or any journalist to run information by a source within the FBI for confirmation or to notify authorities about a pending terrorist attack. This is consistent with the policies at every news organization. But at no time did I compromise a confidential source with the FBI or anyone else.”

Following the Isham controversy, The Smoking Gun on Wednesday reported that a Fox Network News anchor acted as an FBI informant in 1992. According to an FBI memo, the Fox journalist was assigned the task of finding out the name of a confidential source other Fox journalists were using for a story about the murder of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. The memo also described the journalist as a "friend of the FBI."

Although the name of the journalist is not revealed in the memo, The Smoking Gun speculates it might have been John Roland, anchor of New York's WNYW’s nightly newscast. Roland said he might have been asked to be an informant, but "it sure as heck doesn’t ring a bell...I can’t imagine I would have done it.”

The bombshells come as the Center for Public Integrity announced Sunday that on April 12 it will launch iWatch News, a daily, investigative online newspaper.

Date posted: April 10, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 177