Hilary Rosen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hilary B. Rosen
Hilary Rosen in January 2016
Born1958 (age 65–66)
Alma materGeorge Washington University
Occupation(s)Communications and political strategist
Known for
Political partyDemocratic

Hilary Rosen (born 1958) is the former head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). She was a columnist for The Washington Post, became the first Washington editor-at-large and political director of The Huffington Post, and has provided political commentary for CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC.

She worked for the RIAA for 16 years, including as CEO from 1998 to 2003. Since 2010, she has been a partner and managing director at the public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker. She has been a registered lobbyist during her career, both at the RIAA and for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Rosen has been an advocate for LGBT rights since the early 1980s.

Early life[edit]

Rosen was born to a Jewish family[1] in West Orange, New Jersey in 1958. Her father worked as an insurance agent and her mother was the city's first councilwoman.[2][3] In high school, Rosen served as student council president.[2] She earned her bachelor's degree in international business from George Washington University in 1981.[4] Her parents divorced while Rosen was at college.[3]


In 1979, Rosen began working as a legislative assistant in the Washington, D.C. office of Governor Brendan Byrne (D-NJ),[5] who was a friend of Rosen's mother.[3][6] She also worked for Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) early in her career.[7] Rosen worked for the lobbying firm Liz Robbins Associates in the 1980s.[8]

Recording Industry Association of America[edit]

In 1987, Rosen joined the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade organization representing the American recording industry, as its first government relations director.[6][8] In 1989, she and her colleague Jay Berman updated the Parental Advisory label and launched its public awareness campaign.[8] In 1992, she took a brief leave from the RIAA to serve as Senator Dianne Feinstein's transition director and set up the California Democratic Party's office in Washington, D.C.[7][9]

As a registered lobbyist from 1999 to 2003,[10] Rosen influenced the decisions made by Congress on behalf of nearly 350 companies and thousands of artists represented by the RIAA.[8] In 1995, Rosen supported artists' rights when Bob Dole, then Senate Majority Leader, criticized Time Warner and said that rap lyrics promoted violence and were degrading to women.[11][12] She became the organization's president and chief operating officer in May 1996.[8] Rosen was a strong supporter of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which became law in 1998, to prohibit the creation of technologies used to get around copyright protections.[13][14] Rosen was promoted to the role of chief executive officer in 1998.[2] In 1999, the RIAA Diamond certification was awarded for the first time, recognizing albums that have shipped more than 10 million copies.[15] Rosen said the award, which was named as such because "diamonds are valuable [and] no two are alike", represented "a quantum leap" for the music industry and an expansion of the national music market.[15]

In 2000, the American musical recording company A&M Records along with several others, through the RIAA, sued Napster on grounds of copyright infringement under the DMCA,[16] which led to the shutting down of the pioneering peer-to-peer file sharing service. As the face of the RIAA, Rosen was vilified by proponents of free file sharing,[3][17] and even traveled with security at one point because she was receiving death threats.[2][4][6] Nonetheless, Rosen encouraged partnerships between the recording industry and online music businesses,[18] and consulted on the launch of digital music services such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store.[19] Rosen was recognized for advancing the industry's political efforts and appeared on lists of influential leaders, including Entertainment Weekly's "Annual Power List" and National Journal's "Washington's Powerful Insiders".[7] She was included in The Hollywood Reporter's list of the most powerful women in entertainment in 1998,[20] 2000 (number 10),[21][22] 2002 (number 17),[23] and 2003 (number 10).[24]

Rosen resigned from the RIAA in June 2003 to spend more time with her family.[4] Following her resignation, she reportedly "questioned the value of lawsuits against individual downloaders" said she had attempted to "push the industry to evolve".[6] In 2007, she said, "I won't be a George Tenet here, but it's pretty well known that I was impatient with the pace of the 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."[6]

Media roles[edit]

Rosen is a Democratic strategist and political pundit.[6][7][25] She was a regular political columnist for The Washington Post, has authored articles for many national publications, and provided political commentary for CNBC and MSNBC.[4][7] In 2008, she became a CNN contributor, appearing on regular programming as well as special political coverage.[7] Also, in 2008, Rosen became the first Washington editor-at-large and political director of The Huffington Post.[4][7] In 2010, she and The Huffington Post, which was editorially critical of BP following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,[6] reached a mutual decision to part ways when Rosen's firm, Brunswick Group, began consulting for the British oil and gas company.[4][17][26] In April 2012, Rosen was criticized for saying that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life" when discussing Mitt Romney's reliance on his wife as an adviser on women's issues during a CNN appearance. Rosen apologized the next day.[27][28] In 2013, Rosen began writing for The Washington Post as an opinion contributor.

According to the New York Times, Rosen bought over half a million fake Twitter followers. Rosen described it as "an experiment I did several years ago to see how it worked"; however, records indicate Rosen made dozens of purchases between 2015 and 2017.[29][30]

Communications consultant[edit]

In 2006, Rosen and Jay Berman, who formerly worked at RIAA, briefly ran the firm Berman Rosen Global Strategies, consulting for tech companies such as Facebook, Viacom, and XM.[6] In 2008, she joined the public relations firm Brunswick Group to head its Washington, D.C. office.[6][31][32] In 2010, Rosen became a partner and managing director at the political communications and public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker, leading the company alongside Anita Dunn.[4][33][34] The firm is known for its work on progressive issues and focuses on Democrats in its political work.[35] The firm also is employed by TransCanada Corporation to improve their public relations.[36] As a communications consultant, Rosen attended the White House on multiple occasions during Barack Obama's presidency. At least five meetings were with the president to discuss messaging around his health care reform plans.[6][17] Following her 2012 comments regarding Ann Romney, Rosen was the subject of critical coverage by some media outlets, which noted White House visitor logs and speculated whether Rosen or SKDKnickerbocker employees were operating as "unofficial" or "unregistered" lobbyists.[37][38][39] Rosen has advised many national candidates, and in 2012 The Wall Street Journal reported that she was consulting with Debbie Wasserman Schultz during her time as chair of the Democratic National Committee.[6][7][40] SKDKnickerbocker was selected by Edie Windsor's legal team to lead the public relations efforts behind the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (United States v. Windsor, 2013).[41] In 2014, Rosen and Dunn served as senior advisors to the LGBT rights group Americans for Marriage Equality.[42] Planned Parenthood hired Rosen to help manage the 2015 undercover videos controversy.[43] Rosen and SKDKnickerbocker were assisting Susan G. Komen for the Cure with a public relations campaign for an environmental research initiative when the Planned Parenthood controversy arose.[34]


During the campaigning leading up to the 2012 United States presidential election, Rosen criticized Ann Romney, wife of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, claiming that, as a stay-at-home mother, Romney "never worked a day in her life." Rosen was pressured to apologize when her remarks were condemned by the Democratic National Committee and President Obama, who stated he had "little patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates." Michelle Obama also distanced herself from Rosen, expressing on Twitter that "every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."[44]

Rosen was criticized in December 2017 for making two tweets calling several Georgetown Hoyas fans "anti-Semitic," singling one out as a "bigot" after she noticed a photograph of a fan wearing a bacon costume. After Rosen was told that the fan in question was known as "bacon man" and wore the costume because of his last name (Bakan, pronounced "bacon"), she apologized.[45][46][47]

In January 2018,[48] Rosen admitted she bought more than 500,000 fake Twitter followers[49] as "an experiment," to see whether to recommend the practice to her PR clients.[50]

In March 2020 she was criticized for telling Bernie Sanders presidential campaign chair Nina Turner that she had "no standing" to compare Senator Joe Biden to the disappointing "white moderate", a reference to a statement by Martin Luther King Jr., in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham jail. Rosen also mistakenly corrected Turner, stating that King only objected to the 'silence' of the "white moderate" not the comfort of the 'white moderate' with the status quo as Turner had stated. In fact Dr. King stated that "the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice" was more of an obstacle to freedom than the Ku Klux Klanner.[51] She apologized on Twitter in a now deleted tweet, stating "Pls no need to defend me and attack angry black women. They have standing. I always need to listen more than I talk. We rise together.".[51][52] Rosen was subsequently derided for her use of the pejorative phrase "angry black women" which is a racial trope. Rosen then apologized a second time on Twitter stating that she was "humbly sorry" and would never refer to Nina Turner as an 'angry black woman' and only wanted people who were using the phrase against Ms. Turner to stop.[51]

LGBT advocacy[edit]

Rosen became an LGBT activist starting in 1982 when she and others demanded federal intervention to combat HIV/AIDS in the United States.[7] She outed herself to members of Congress in an attempt to win HIV/AIDS funding.[41]

In 2004, she managed the successful campaign to defeat George W. Bush's proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage.[7] Her work on this campaign is profiled in John Harwood and Gerald Seib's book Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power (2008).[7]

Between 2004 and 2008, Rosen was a registered lobbyist for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States. In 2008, she served as interim director for the organization.[4][6] She also served on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation board.[8] The Advocate included Rosen in their "People of the Year" list in 2008.[53]

Rosen consulted on the Hollingsworth v. Perry (originally Perry v. Schwarzenegger) series of federal court cases that legalized same-sex marriage in California.[54] Rosen was included in The Advocate's "Out100" list for her work on the "Respect for Marriage Coalition" media campaign during the Defense of Marriage Act challenge and United States v. Windsor civil rights case.[41] She was also named one of the 25 "most powerful LGBT players" in Washington, D.C., by National Journal and ranked number 62 in Out's 2012 "Power List".[7][55] National Journal included Rosen in their list of the "30 Most Influential Out Washingtonians" in 2014.[56]

Inspired by Showtime's LGBT television series The L Word, Rosen collaborated with the show's creator to establish OurChart.com, a social networking site for lesbians. Its name refers to "the chart", which was used on the show to illustrate the relationships between characters.[4] The site was defunct by 2012, having been acquired by Showtime.[6]

In 1992, she helped found Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization that encourages voter turnout among young voters.[2][7]

Rosen and Tammy Haddad co-host the annual Garden Brunch prior to the White House Correspondents' Association's dinner.[4][57]

Personal life[edit]

Rosen met Elizabeth Birch in 1994. Birch was a lawyer for Apple and later became the executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.[2] The couple adopted twins from Texas in 1999.[14][58] They received some criticism from conservative groups who opposed LGBT adoption.[2] The two separated in 2006.[4][6]

Rosen has lived in Washington, D.C. since her studies at George Washington University.[4] She is well-connected and has been called a "Washington insider".[4][6] Al Gore and Greta van Susteren were among guests who attended her fiftieth birthday celebration.[6]

In addition to being a Democratic strategist, Rosen has described herself as a "strong, progressive Democrat".[2][41] She has been a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party and has hosted fundraisers for candidates, including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).[8] She has also been a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton[59][60] and supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. Her stout advocacy for Biden led her to misquote and lecture former Ohio state senator Nina Turner about the meaning of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s warning as to White moderates. She later apologized for her misstep.[52] She has made many personal financial contributions to politicians and groups such as the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Kennedy for Senate 2000.[8]


  1. ^ "Hilary Rosen Washington Post Contributor". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Holson, Laura M. (August 20, 2001). "Recording Industry's Top Lobbyist Seeks Harmony in a Time of Discord". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Bai, Matt (February 1, 2003). "Hating Hilary". Wired. Condé Nast. ISSN 1059-1028. OCLC 24479723. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Weinger, Mackenzie (April 12, 2012). "10 things about Hilary Rosen". Politico. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  5. ^ Swisher, Kara (June 26, 1995). "She Sings the Music Industry's Praises". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Weiner, Rachel (April 12, 2012). "Who is Hilary Rosen?". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Hilary Rosen: Political Commentator". CNN. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Weeks, Linton (July 30, 1997). "Turning Up the Power". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  9. ^ "Hilary Rosen Joins Brunswick Group as Managing Partner of Washington Office" (Press release). PR Newswire. Brunswick Group. November 21, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Query the Lobbying Disclosure Act Database". United States Senate. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help) Note: User must query the Lobbying Disclosure Act Database using "Rosen, Hilary" as the registered "Lobbyist Name".
  11. ^ Harrington, Richard (June 7, 1995). "The Song Remains the Same". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Landler, Mark (June 5, 1995). "Time Warner Seeks a Delicate Balance in Rap Music Furor". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  13. ^ Evangelista, Benny (August 13, 2001). "Digital copyright law under fire / Millennium Act already out of date, critics say". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst. ISSN 1932-8672. OCLC 8812614. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Holson, Laura M. (January 23, 2003). "Recording Industry Lobbyist Plans to Leave Her Position". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Hiatt, Brian. "Metallica, Zeppelin, Billy Joel Honored for 10 Million-Plus Sales". MTV. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  16. ^ 17 U.S.C. A&M Records. Inc. v. Napster. Inc. 114 F. Supp. 2d 896 (N. D. Cal. 2000).
  17. ^ a b c Geraghty, Jim (April 12, 2012). "Who Is Hilary Rosen? Crass? Gilded? Stern?". National Review. ISSN 0028-0038. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  18. ^ Holson, Laura (November 20, 2000). "Which Direction for Digital Music?". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  19. ^ Smolowe, Jill (October 24, 2011). "Steve Jobs: 1955–2011". People. 76 (16). Time Inc.: 42. Bibcode:2011Natur.479...42O. doi:10.1038/479042a. ISSN 0093-7673. PMID 22051667. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  20. ^ "US recording industry head quits". BBC News. January 23, 2003. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  21. ^ "Julia Elected to List of Powerful Women". ABC News. December 5, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  22. ^ Turner, Megan (December 5, 2000). "The Ladies Who Launch Entertainment Trends". New York Post. News Corp. ISSN 1090-3321. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  23. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (December 3, 2002). "J K Rowling flies the flag by breaking into Hollywood's list of powerful women". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  24. ^ "Sony's Pascal named biggest female fish in Hollywood". USA Today. Gannett Company. December 3, 2003. ISSN 0734-7456. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  25. ^ "Hillary Clinton prepares for Donald Trump's insult machine, which has already turned her way". The Times-Picayune. Advance Publications. April 4, 2016. ISSN 1055-3053. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  26. ^ Smith, Ben (June 4, 2010). "HuffPost cuts ties with BP consultant Rosen". Politico. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  27. ^ Madison, Lucy (April 12, 2012). "Hilary Rosen apologizes to Ann Romney for "poorly chosen" words". CBS News. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  28. ^ Little, Morgan (April 12, 2012). "Hilary Rosen reverses course, apologizes to Ann Romney". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  29. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (2018). "The Follower Factory". The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  30. ^ "New York investigates 'follower factory'". BBC News. 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  31. ^ "Rosen to Lead Brunswick's DC Office". Adweek. New York City: Prometheus Global Media. November 21, 2008. ISSN 0199-2864. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  32. ^ Ahrens, Frank (November 21, 2008). "Hilary Rosen to Lead Brunswick's D.C. Office". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  33. ^ Rosen joining SKDKnickerbocker: * Ciarallo, Joe (July 29, 2010). "Hilary Rosen Joins SKDKnickerbocker". Adweek. Retrieved May 11, 2016. * Allen, Mike (July 29, 2010). "Rosen joins SKDKnickerbocker". Politico. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  34. ^ a b Pesta, Abigail (September 5, 2012). "Ex-Komen Official Karen Handel Attacks Planned Parenthood 'Thugs' in New Book". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  35. ^ Gelles, David (October 8, 2015). "Mark Penn's Stagwell Group Will Acquire SKDKnickerbocker". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  36. ^ Lichtblau, Eric; Lipton, Eric (October 19, 2012). "Strategizing for the President, and Corporate Clients, Too". the New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  37. ^ Fang, Lee (April 13, 2012). "The Real Hilary Rosen Scandal". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  38. ^ Geraghty, Jim (April 12, 2012). "Hilary Rosen, Frequent White House Visitor". National Review. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  39. ^ Weigel, David (April 13, 2012). "Meanwhile, Political Consultants Are Still Horrible". Slate. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  40. ^ Langley, Monica (February 16, 2012). "Combative Top Democrat Gains Clout in Campaign". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  41. ^ a b c d "Out100: The Activists Who Shaped 2013". The Advocate. Here Media. November 13, 2013. ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  42. ^ Haberman, Maggie (February 4, 2014). "Gay-marriage backers start campaign". Politico. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  43. ^ Karni, Annie; Palmer, Anna (July 30, 2015). "Clinton's Planned Parenthood ties run deep". Politico. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  44. ^ Bingham, Amy (April 12, 2012). "Hilary Rosen Apologizes For Attacking Ann Romney As a Stay-At-Home Mom". ABC News. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  45. ^ Owens, George (December 18, 2017). "CNN contributor calls Georgetown fan's outfit 'anti-Semitic'; later apologizes". Syracuse.com. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  46. ^ Stewart, Emily (January 27, 2018). "New York attorney general launches investigation into bot factory after Times exposé". Vox. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  47. ^ "Why Are Journalists Buying Fake Followers on Social Media?". Social Media HQ. February 26, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  48. ^ "New York investigates company accused of selling fake Twitter followers". BBC News. January 28, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  49. ^ Confessore, Nicholas; Harris, Richard; Hansen, Mark (January 27, 2018). "The Follower Factory". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  50. ^ "Journalists struggle to explain why they bought fake twitter followers". NBC News. February 3, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  51. ^ a b c Griffith, Janelle (March 6, 2020). "Dem Strategist Apologizes for Saying Sanders Surrogate Had no Standing to Use NLK Jr.'s Words". NBC News. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  52. ^ a b Walker, James (March 6, 2020). "Hilary Rosen Apologizes for Saying Nina Turner Did Not Have 'Stand' To Use MLK Jr.'s Words to Attack Biden Amid Backlash". Newsweek. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  53. ^ "People of the Year: Sunil Babu Pant, Hilary Rosen, Suze Orman". The Advocate. December 16, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  54. ^ Kaplan, Roberta (October 5, 2015). Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393248685. We had already had a number of intense meetings with the Perry team and its allies, including ... Hilary Rosen, who had been brought in as a communications consultant for both cases.
  55. ^ "The Power List": * "The Power List". Out. Here Media. April 26, 2012. ISSN 1062-7928. * "The Power List: Hilary Rosen". Out. April 25, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  56. ^ "The 30 Most Influential Out Washingtonians". National Journal. Atlantic Media. January 23, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  57. ^ Grinapol, Corinne (January 19, 2016). "The Haddad Brunch Gets the Iowa (and Winter) Treatment". Adweek. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  58. ^ hilarybrosen (May 13, 2018). "Filled with gratitude for these two". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  59. ^ Belkin, Lisa (January 18, 2016). "Hillary, Lena and Amy: Sisterhood is powerful, or so Clinton hopes". Yahoo! News. Yahoo!. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  60. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (March 31, 2016). "Bernie Sanders' unlikely role model: Hillary Clinton". MSNBC. Retrieved May 10, 2016.

External links[edit]