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.”

MORE: DOJ says e-mails, letter prove it notified Fox of subpoenas

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.

Kerry must answer Benghazi questions, House GOP says

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. Jack Rail

    Holder wants these meetings OTR for the same reason he can't remember anything: To avoid accountability.

    May 30, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. Centre

    The press actually standing up for something – shocking

    May 30, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. GIVEMEFREEDOM

    Why isn't Holder having a meeting with those who actually RELEASE the secrets?
    The media has NOT been reporting important news items because they are on the Obama team. Holder is aware the media is on his side. How much more "on his side" does he want???
    Then when an independent minded reporter goes against the "regime" they have to have a secret meeting about it???
    This gang of anti-American thugs make me sick.

    May 30, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Brent

    Off the record...so if I lie, it can't be "official"...signed Eric Holder

    May 30, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  5. Tracy W

    Maybe there is hope for the press, after all. Kudos to those declining the invitation.

    May 30, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. yramesore

    holder should be removed from this equation until a investigation is completed and the appropriate guilty parties are held accountable.

    May 30, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. DrinkYourKoolaid

    "Off the Record" another phrase that means... "I lied once under oath it won't happen again after I tell you everything you cannot print." Once again this ROGUE Admin playing to it's own set of rules. Yet more proof that Holder has taken Obama through unchartered waters that will hopefully allow all us CONCERNED US Citizens ...(not low-information liberals sheep voters and ILLEGAL ALIENS) to eventuall take this SOCIALIST TYRANNICAL Admin D-O-W-N. It's just a matter of time before we all find out exactly either HOW STUPID and BRAINDEAD Obama's New America really is or there is finally enough dirt on the JOKER in the Office to IMPEACH HIM. Tick, tock goes Obama's clock. It's never a good thing to have to impeach your president but in this case nothing would make this country better. Step forward all you Liberal SHEEP and defend your TYRANT of a pesident. Once again.... Sounds like crickets!!

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Les Legato

    The kremlin approves.

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. K98

    Hmmm, more hypocrisy from this administration. "My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing..." whitehouse.gov

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. kbingh

    Any news organization that shows up might as well check their credibility at the door.

    May 30, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Brian in DC

    The most transparent administration ever (sarcasm off).

    May 30, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  12. TXBH

    "A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press should be an open one. We have a responsibility not to betray that"
    I would agree with that statement...except your about 4 years too late.

    May 30, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. Rick Ornberg

    Over time, "Off the record" always means "...unless we decide otherwise later on" for the journalists, and "I never said that." for the politician.

    May 30, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. Jeff Shapiro

    Revolt of the lapdogs.

    May 30, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. Lone wolf

    For too long the media has been running wild and trying to hide behind the freedom of the press. They are constantly breaking the law. If we as everyday citizens did what some in the media do, we would be arrested. These folks think that they are exempt from the laws we have to follow.

    May 30, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. Deeply Divided

    Politico's Harris tells, "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." That is true up to the point at which those in a position of accountability have abused their privilege – don't you THINK?

    May 30, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Ben Dover

    People, are you listening??? Are things "TRANSPARENT" now?

    If not, please do not vote next time.

    May 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  18. beerman

    Wasn't it because of "off-the-record conversations" that the DOJ felt an investigation of the media was needed?

    May 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. CletusTJudd

    I suspect that if Obama and gang went out and committed mass murder – some *cough* would still be defending Obama. Can't fix stupid.

    May 30, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. CLL

    Why would any news org want an off the record meeting? Isn't their job to report the news? Why would Holder or Obama even suggest having such a meeting with the media? Sounds like the Administration thinks that the media are its mouth piece... In some case they are right but it looks like that might be changing.

    May 30, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Was this just a simple "grievance"as the Politico editor labeled it? Or it the Politico editor trying to proibide cover for the ObamaGate machine? Umm...umm...umm...DOH...

    May 30, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. ItsAboutTime

    And the people start to move from denial to acceptance that maybe this administration isn't as fantastic as they've been selling it as for the last 4 years.

    May 30, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  23. Mitch

    This is a joke Eric Holder ought to be subject to an independent investigation into himself and he is the person who would appoint the investigator. Instead holder is holding off the record spin meetings. Doesn't take much to believe that Holder is going to take the fall for his activities, including possibly jail.

    May 30, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  24. Mike

    We all knew Politico would be there, someone has to do the President's lying for him when Holder tries to lie his way out of this.

    May 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. Earl Dog

    It stands to reason that the most transparent administration's chief law enforcement officer would want to have a discussion on freedom of the press behind locked doors. Right?

    May 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28