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.

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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. Tim

    I don't see a story of whether or not FOX news accepted. They probably weren't invited.

    May 30, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. John

    Public officials work for us and should not have "off the record" meetings with the press or anyone else. Unless an issue deals with national security, all meetings, conversations, phone calls, emails, and other communications should be public.
    It's our government....not their private club.

    May 30, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. scooby184

    Considering that Politico is one of the lapdogs for this administration, no surprises here. Hopefully this won't make the other organizations cave for 'fear of being left out'.

    May 30, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. ice9load

    What no attendance from the secret police? Might as well have everyone. (No I don't believe there is a secret police. I hope.)

    May 30, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. jmatt

    >>> off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas.

    What kind of ideas does the Attorney General have that he's afraid to make public?

    "Listen, fellas, let's get back on the same page here. What's with all the scandal and negativity lately? Can't we just do cover stories about how President Obama is Abe Lincoln, Superman and Jesus all rolled into one? You never know who is gonna get a visiot from OSHA or the IRS next, know what I'm saying?"

    May 30, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. scooby184

    Considering that Politico is one of the lapdogs for this administration, no surprise here. Hopefully this won't make the other organizations feel like they need to cave for 'fear of being left out'.

    May 30, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. spider

    may the press is growing a set of balls!

    May 30, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. jimmie

    so press people you cheered as long as the guy was abusing those you don't like so now you can't cheer your own abuse?

    May 30, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. PLauren

    Finally , the press is having none of this.

    May 30, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. disgusted

    So the prog media FINALLY discovered integrity? That'll be the day, just another flash in the pan. Your true colors are cast in the stone of America's destruction. Thanks for nothing.

    May 30, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  11. ed

    How is this guy still in DC?

    May 30, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. John Allfedup

    Looks llike iit's going to be a very lonely meeting for this dweeb
    Ony sychophant Poltico will be there. I'm sure they will have fun deriding the top news caster Fox
    You know your in trouble when even the HuffPo won't go

    May 30, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Arminius

    Query: Will Politico's editor have scuff marks on his knees, when he leaves the 'special' meeting with Holder?
    Just curious.

    May 30, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. JJ1970JJ

    The main stream media cries like scolded children, but will never call for Obama's impeachment. These scandals have made Nixon look like a rookie.

    May 30, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. Sam

    Media trying to act as though it has credibility by refusing to go. Everyone knows they are in the tank for this adminsitration and this let's pretend we have standards

    May 30, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. Tonyn

    The Whole Breakdown of Liberty in the USA is being systematically
    done with corruption gone wild from every direction .... When we have a
    Attorney General with no regard for the LAW under the US Constitution unless it benefits his and the administrations IDEOLOGY so WE
    HAVE A LAWLESS STATE and Collapse is eminent !!!!!

    We might have a Little time left to Stand up and DEMAND Replacement
    of the TOP Lawyer for the US Constitution and if this does not Happen
    all H3LL will BREAK LOOSE .

    NONE OF THESE OTHER AGENCY CRIMES WILL BE TOUCHED AS LONG AS AG HOLDER IS IN THE SEAT AT JUSTICE !!!!!!!!!!

    We NEED a PETITION CALLING FOR AG HOLDER to STEP DOWN NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. constitution1st

    Clearly Politico has no problem taking their marching orders from this Regime.

    May 30, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Dave Witheld

    They are so cute when they are throwing a tantrum.
    Hey! Media clowns. Where were you when the Ambassador was being killed?
    Where were you when widows and orphans were being robbed in the auto bailout?
    Where were you when we were running guns to criminals?
    But, oh no, let one of you be investigated then it's a big deal.
    Stew in your own juices clowns.
    I fully expect you to be on your knees before The One just as soon as this is over.
    How does he taste by the way?

    May 30, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. EricaWhite

    It is sad, but AG Holder will hang on as long as possible and the President's Agenda will suffer. You know you are in trouble when the Press refuses to meet with you and will decide to uncover what they want when they want and the Fourth Estate will no longer remain cool, calm, and over your side of anything anymore. When others feel sorry for you, you know you are finished.

    May 30, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Randy Andrews

    Whereas I support the freedom of the press I do not believe that the concept included jeopardizing American lives or American interests by way of secret and confidential communications that are not currently releasable under the freedom of information act or that are obtained by a criminal act. Most all national news organization fail to provide news vs. entertainment. I do not believe that entertainment should be included in the concept of freedom of the Press. Governments need to have some secrets and employee in these confidential positions should be held accountable for breaching their duties by releasing such documents, therefore, with a court order I see nothing wrong with the AG seeking and obtaining records from News/Entertainment organizations. Having said that, I also support the creation of severe penalties for Government employees who wrongly seek and obtain any personal records of any person or company.

    May 30, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. jadams76

    As the mouthpiece of this Administration we at Politico feel it is our duty

    May 30, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. callnews

    Off the record: a testing of the waters to see who is on "our" side, who we can expect to spin this situation so that our sins are not found out. After all, we're just to big to fail.

    May 30, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. war beagle

    Given how dishonest this Justice Department is, these organizations should agree to attend and then leak the conversation later.

    May 30, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Bill Schretter

    I find the Attorney General's comment interesting – The official said the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy."

    Last time I read the Presidential Oath of Office and similar ones that Appointees take, the requirement to uphold the civil rights is an obligation of Office, not a voluntary choice based on "longstanding belief" or "convenience".

    Maybe the failure to recognize this in his daily work and overall for the administration is the source of their current scandals?

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  25. DG

    Here is how you sweep the scandals under the rug: act like you are above the fray and portray yourself as the fixer of the problem. Even though you were the perpetrator. For demagogues, it is a great strategy. For having an accountable government, it is an in your face slap at freedom. Can we not have a populace that opens its eyes to galloping tyranny, and demands truth in the highest offices?

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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