When X-Men Origins: Wolverine was posted on the Internet earlier this week, a month before its planned theatrical release, Fox immediately responded by enlisting the FBI to help track down the culprit who pirated it. (And thank goodness the FBI has nothing more pressing to work on right now.) The studio's official statement said this: "We forensically mark our content so we can identify sources that make it available or download it." I can't help them on who made it available, but I do know of one person who downloaded it: Fox News gossip reporter Roger Friedman.

He wrote about it in his column on Thursday -- since removed but still in Google's cache -- describing how easy it was to find and download, and how much he love-love-LOVED it. He wrote, "Right now, my 'cousins' at 20th Century Fox are probably having apoplexy.... But everyone can relax. I am, in fact, amazed about how great Wolverine turned out. It exceeds expectations at every turn. I was completely riveted to my desk chair in front of my computer."

Did you get that? He seems to be saying that while his corporate siblings are furious about the leak, they needn't be, because the movie is really, really good -- as if that were the point! As if THAT'S why they're so angry, because they feared the movie was terrible and now the secret has gotten out a month early.

Can Friedman really be that clueless? Having read his reporting in the past, I have to say yes, he really can be. This is the guy who ranted for months about how awful Valkyrie was going to be, then had the nerve to complain when he didn't get invited to the press screening -- and then put it on his Worst of 2008 list anyway, even though he still hadn't seen it. Friedman is an embarrassment to Fox News (or, that is, he would be if Fox News were capable of being embarrassed).

UPDATE: According to Deadline Hollywood, Fox has fired freelance columnist Roger Friedman.

It was our old pal Drew McWeeny at Hit Fix who brought all this to our attention, and it was his article that elicited a lukewarm response from Fox (and, no doubt, the scrubbing clean of Friedman's offending column). Fox told McWeeny, in part: "[Friedman's] behavior is reprehensible and we condemn this act categorically -- whether the review is good or bad."

That's a great start -- but what else are they gonna do? Friedman did break the law, after all. Fox made every effort to pillory the projectionist who wrote an early review of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007, going so far as to get him fired, and that guy hadn't even done anything illegal. What will they do about Friedman?

What's that you say? Nothing? They'll do nothing? You say Friedman is a high-profile writer for a major news outlet, and that probably grants him some immunity from any serious consequences? Huh. I wonder if you're right. I guess we'll find out.