Holder runs into roadblocks on off-the-record meetings on leaks
May 29th, 2013
11:20 PM ET
2 years ago

Holder runs into roadblocks on off-the-record meetings on leaks

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET on Thursday 5/30

Washington (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder's plans to sit down with media representatives to discuss guidelines for handling investigations into leaks to the news media have run into trouble.

The Associated Press issued a statement Wednesday objecting to plans for the meetings to be off the record. "If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter," said Erin Madigan White, the AP's media relations manager.

The New York Times is taking the same position. "It isn't appropriate for us to attend an off-the-record meeting with the attorney general," executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement.

Like the New York Times and the Associated Press, CNN will decline the invitation for an off-the-record meeting. A CNN spokesperson says if the meeting with the attorney general is on the record, CNN would plan to participate.

The Huffington Post's Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said he will not attend unless the meeting is on the record. "A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press should be an open one. We have a responsibility not to betray that," Grim told CNN.

But Politico posted an item on its website saying editor-in-chief John Harris plans to attend one of the meetings with Holder.

"As editor-in-chief, I routinely have off-the-record conversations with people who have questions or grievances about our coverage or our newsgathering practices," Harris said in the Politico item. "I feel anyone - whether an official or ordinary reader - should be able to have an unguarded conversation with someone in a position of accountability for a news organization when there is good reason."

Representatives for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will both attend the meeting.

“I prefer that any meeting be on the record," said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron. "That said, journalists routinely participate in off-the-record sessions, whether they prefer those conditions or not, and then continue to report on events. I am going to this meeting in order to represent our interests as journalists and to raise our concerns. I'll also listen to what the Attorney General has to say. I trust that our journalists will report on this as vigorously as they would any other subject.”

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A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas.

President Barack Obama directed the attorney general to review guidelines for investigations involving leaks to the media and said Holder would be meeting with journalists to get their views.

This comes in the wake of disclosures that the government obtained AP phone records after the news organization reported classified details of a thwarted 2012 plot in Yemen to try to blow up a plane with a bomb. The government also obtained e-mails and phone records for a Fox journalist who allegedly received a classified report on North Korea from a former State Department contractor.

A Justice Department official said Holder would hold his first meetings with the media on Thursday and Friday.

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The official said the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy."

The official said the sessions would include print, television, radio, wire services and online media.

–Jesse Solomon, Jim Acosta and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

MORE: 5 things about the controversy surrounding AG Eric Holder


Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department
soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. Mike

    an off the record meeting with the press from the most transparent administration ever, so they say. investigative reporting died a long time ago in the US. They only do their job when a Republican is in office (Valerie Plame, yellow cake, etc). our media spent more time looking into Bush and his national guard record then they did Obama and his birth certificate, college transcripts, who paid for his college, etc.

    May 30, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. jeepmanjr

    I wouldn't touch it! Why does everything have to be "top secret" and hidden from public consumption? They don't want Amerians to think of them as corrupt, but what else are we to think? Seriously!!

    May 30, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  3. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Gotta love that TRANSPARENCY Obama promised!

    May 30, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. Isaac

    I'm not a journalist but doesn't the job entail holding those in office accountable by letting the public know what they are up to? Off the record sounds like the exact opposite of journalism.

    May 30, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. Marcus Camby

    >2013
    >Still believing what comes from the media

    Do you even try?

    May 30, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  6. jfdkslfjk

    This guy should be thrown in prison! Enough already!

    May 30, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  7. False Hope

    "Politico" true Obama puppets to the end!!!

    May 30, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  8. rascal69

    The official said the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy." However, Mr. Holder believes this belief is for others, not himself or this administration, particularly conservatives.

    May 30, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  9. Lady Con

    The mainstream media has no credibility any more, and pretending to be indignant about Holder's 'off the record' chat won't fix that. Holder has been crooked since he orchestrated the Marc Rich pardon the last day Clinton was president... and he's still a crook.... he keeps his job only because he knows where all the bodies are buried – and because the MSM won't go after him.

    May 30, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. slamd097

    Like it really matters if it is off the record, or on the record. Everything that comes out of the mouths of these people is lies and crap. Keep stepping on all of us. I am seeing the troops begin to rally for us to clean house in elections. Seems the Dems, GOP, and the LIb's all need to be cleaned out. Bring in fresh faces, and new people that are not in the pockets of corporations yet. Give us back our lives and stop using the IRS, and DHS as your Secret Service.

    May 30, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  11. Ryk

    Setting the stage for a CYA news dump, all it is.

    May 30, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  12. Pony BoiJohnson

    CNN looks the better for it in my eyes. OTR amounts to handcuffing a fireman in a burning building.

    May 30, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  13. DrinkYourKoolaid

    Now I know POLITICO is in bed with this ROGUE Admin. I just lost what little faith I had in POLITICO. Should just rename to "Obama's Politico." This country is now a TOILET under this president. I hope all you Liberals are PROUD.

    May 30, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  14. Gator

    Ah, Politico, evr the Pressitute!

    May 30, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  15. Kevin

    Who is Politico?

    May 30, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  16. damoclez

    This is why Politico is considered to be a very pseudo-journalistic source. They haven't even got the guts to stand with the tenets carried down for the last couple of hundreds years that protects the freedom of the press, and speech in general. Politico is such a hack organization, sleaze at it's worst.

    May 30, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  17. ropati

    This is what happens when it reaches one's own backyard.

    May 30, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  18. Richard_Iowa

    What???? The LSM has sat down those 10 gallon buckets of water they have been carrying for the Obama Administration and are telling Holder to carry his own water. This is not consistent with the new paradigm of journalism.

    May 30, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  19. Jin

    Most corrupt administration ever.

    May 30, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  20. RedHotRash

    he is a thug style, sleaze-ball, liar, oh yeah, and HEAD of the United Staes Dept. of Justice.....

    May 30, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  21. morrowc

    In earlier times, this guy would find himself in handcuffs. And I'm sure he is being fed his instructions by the puppetmaster. Look for him to take the fifth pretty soon. Matter-of-fact, that might be the hallmark of the current administration. Wonder how many of them will be willing to go to prison for the administration?

    May 30, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. Jason Burnstein

    Eric Holder must be tried for perjury. If convicted, sent to prison. Nothing less. The laws of this country apply to everyone.

    May 30, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  23. Dave

    Holder is Obama's boy. The mainstream media loves all things Obama. This is just a lovers tiff. All of these left wing enablers will be back to their suck up ways in no time at all. Nothing to see here.

    May 30, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  24. alpha1six

    Sounds like the administration has gone a step to far with the press. Even their friends can see what they are trying to do.

    May 30, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. joe rossi

    Any meetings should be on the record, not off unless you have something to hide.

    May 30, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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