Red Carpet Interview
President of the RIAA Recording industry association of america
Hilary Beth Rosen (born 1958) is an American communications consultant, Democratic pundit, and former registered lobbyist. Since 2010, multiple sources have described her as a lobbyist.
She worked for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 16 years, including as CEO from 1998 to 2003. During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Rosen worked as a consultant to BP. She has worked for the public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker since 2010.
Rosen was born in West Orange, New Jersey in 1958. She received her BBA degree from George Washington University.
Registered lobbyist for the recording industry
Rosen testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2000 on the future of digital music
Rosen was with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) from 1987 to 2003 and served first as President and then Chair and CEO from 1998 to 2003. She presided over the RIAA during the period of when the rise of the Internet notably conflicted with the established recording industry interests. She was paid to lobby the US legislature and was a regular presence on behalf of her employers in the recording industry at a time against proponents of file sharing and new Internet technologies.
During her tenure the RIAA filed lawsuits against early peer-to-peer file-sharing communities including Napster, Audiogalaxy, and Grokster. The organization lobbied the US Congress to pass controversial legislation supporting Recording Industry interests, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Record Rental Act, and numerous trade treaties (see Societal views on intellectual property). Despite the RIAA’s aggressive tactics, online file-swapping has continued to grow. Industry critics, including those within the Association, have begun to question the effectiveness of the campaign. Indeed, many believe that the RIAA’s activities alienated consumers and some popular artists from the very music industry the RIAA is supposed to protect. Rosen has expressed her agreement with this assertion.
Under Rosen, the RIAA attempted to lobby for strict digital copyright protection, including copy protected CDs and DRM-enabled media formats for personal computers. Copy-protected CDs were widely rejected by consumers for a variety of technological and political issues. Rosen’s RIAA advanced a legal and public relations campaign to limit the digital file swapping of copyrighted music.
In 2002, Rosen began to argue that the recording industry should begin even more aggressive tactics aimed at individual citizens engaged in file sharing. The content industry, already facing an anti-copyright backlash, opted against Rosen’s approach.
Speaking in 2007, Rosen said
It’s pretty well known that I was impatient with the pace of the [Music] industry’s embrace of online distribution of music. There’s no substitute for speed when times are dire. The record companies had valid reasons for their caution, but that caution let the situation get out of hand.
In 2010, Rosen gave an interview and spoke candidly on her career:
When I gave $1,000 or $2,000 to a lawmaker, I wanted him to listen to my business proposition. And when I helped organize an event that raised $50,000 or $100,000, you bet I expected their vote. Why else do it?
Departure from RIAA
Rosen resigned as head of the RIAA at the end of 2003 because she wanted to spend more time with her partner, Elizabeth Birch, and the twins they had adopted in 1999. Birch was then the executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization devoted to LGBT rights.
Rosen and Birch separated in 2006.
Communications consultant and pundit
In 2006, Rosen founded Berman Rosen Global Strategies, a short-lived consulting firm, with Jason Berman, Chairman of the International Recording Industry Association. In 2007, she was involved in creating the now-defunct OurChart.com for fans of the television series The L Word.
She began working for the Brunswick Group, a London-based PR firm, in 2008.
Rosen left the Brunswick Group, joining the PR firm SKDKnickerbocker in 2010.
Consultant to British Petroleum (BP)
Fire on Deep Water Horizon
In June 2010, during Deepwater Horizon oil spill, The Washington Post revealed that Rosen was a consultant for British Petroleum (BP). This revelation led The Huffington Post, which she worked for during the 2008 election, to publicly cut ties with Rosen.
Pundit and statements on Ann Romney
Rosen began a television pundit career, first with CNBC and then with MSNBC. She signed with CNN in early 2008.
On April 11, 2012, during an appearance on CNN, Rosen criticized Mitt Romney for using his wife as an adviser on women’s issues, stating that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life.” The statement was broadly condemned. Ann Romney responded that she “made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” On April 12, Rosen apologized for her comments.
In popular culture
“Jimmy Kimmel on Hilary Rosen” on YouTube
The internationally-broadcast 2012 White House Correspondents Dinner included the featured speaker Jimmy Kimmel satirically commenting on Rosen’s brief role in the 2012 campaign, saying:
One of [White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s jobs is to keep track of all the Hilary Rosens. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this story […] Hilary Rosen is the woman who said Ann Romney never worked a day in her life, even though Mrs. Romney raised five kids. And of course, the administration tries to distance itself from those comments. They said she’s not an adviser to the Obama campaign, even though, as we later found out, her name appeared on the White House visitor log 35 times.
So when reporters ask Jay, why her name showed up 35 times, this is where it gets hilarious. He said, he wasn’t sure it was the same Hilary Rosen. He said, I personally know three Hilary Rosens.
You personally know three Hilary Rosens? Where did all these Hilary Rosen come from? Did you pick them from the Hilary Rosen garden?
I’d bet you $10,000 you don’t know three Hilary Rosens, but I’m not running for president though.
Consultant and alleged lobbyist
White House visitor logs list 35 instances where a “Hilary Rosen” visited the White House. In 2009, the AP reported that Rosen was present at a White House meeting between health care industry lobbyists and senior White House strategists. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Rosen was consulting with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Rosen attended the March 2012 White House state dinner with her client John Kelly of Microsoft. Rosen supported the Stop Online Piracy Act. In April 2012, The Nation’s journalist Lee Fang penned an article entitled “The Real Hilary Rosen Scandal” in which Rosen’s firm is described as “an unregistered lobbying firm that has become one of the biggest names in the influence business by using its ties to President Obama and leaders in Congress.” An unnamed senior Democrat was quoted as saying: “It’s an open secret in the Dem consultant community that [Rosen’s firm] SKD has been signing up clients based on ‘perceived White House access’ tied to prior relationships and employment.” Articles in Newsweek and New York Times also have described her as a lobbyist.