Holder runs into roadblocks on off-the-record meetings on leaks
May 29th, 2013
11:20 PM ET
11 months 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. Libertarian_First

    Yeah. I bet he wants this off the record.

    Why does this dude still have a job?

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. NealWV

    The others don't need to go to an off the record meeting. They have enough of those meeting with gov offiicials and thus know the entirety of the discussion without having to attend.

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Willy Brown

    No worries. MSNBC will be there with bells on.

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. Scotch

    Go to jail, criminal

    May 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. JP Tooney

    That DOJ official certainly has a sense of humor, making a statement about Holder's belief of "protecting and defending" the First Amendment. I mean, was he able to maintain a straight face when he said that?

    Good for the press who refuses to meet "off the record" and be painted with the same scathing brush as this Administration, who has already enjoyed far too many "off the record" meetings and dictatorial stances.

    May 30, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. MIBob

    In an 'off the record' meeting, Holder can come clean about what other news agencies were subjected to the same illegal acts as committed on the AP and Fox News/Rosen . . . and those in attendance can't report it because it came to them in an off-the-record, can't talk about meeting. What a bunch of crap . . .

    May 30, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. JLin

    Oopsie. Are there cracks beginning to appear in the Vichy Press Corps wall? What does Jay "Vladimir Posner" Carney have to say about this?

    May 30, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Jim Black

    the meetings Eric Holder plans to have with Bureau Chiefs should not be off the record. This would be in keeping with President Obama's claim of being the most transparent Administration, a claim as laughable as All the l "I don't knows" coming from the highest levels of government in all the scandals of this Administration.

    May 30, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Raymond Dillinger

    This OTR is from the "most open and transparent government."

    May 30, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Mark Carlton

    Too bad the press couldn't have developed some backbone in, say, 2008 or so. We wouldn't be having this circus now.

    May 30, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. obamacansaveyourhouselosangeles

    no one knows what its like to run a government behind closed doors
    no one knows what its like to detain the people who live between your shores
    whether you are legal or illegal it does not make much difference
    when the government comes for you to put you behind the political fence
    not the U.S.S.R. now it is the U.S. we R.

    May 30, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. DARNELL

    Obama the corrupt.

    May 30, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Anonymous

    It's too late for CNN to pretend like they are honest reporters. The main stream media enabled this corrupt adminstration and now they are paying the price. You sleep with dogs and you get fleas.

    May 30, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. beelzie

    Holder: "Nobody from Fox or Breitbart here, right?....OK, guys, ideas on how we can spin this so the POS, uh, I mean POTUS, can get out clean? .....? ...Come on folks, you've been with us for the last four or five years, don't go wobbly on us now!"

    May 30, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. Eric

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen, that even the NYTimes, the most loyal of lapdogs, refused to put on their knee-pads for the chance to talk with him. Politico, on the other hand must be desperate for some extra lovin'.

    May 30, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. Nat

    The press is hardly acting pious–they only know that a closed door meeting will lead to specific threats and they don't want to give Holder the chance.

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  17. bc3b

    I'd say what Politico is except I wouldn't want to insult the ladies of the evening.

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. flojo

    What they meant by calling this meeting is, "let the brainwashing begin.let's throw the press a bone..it's worked before"...lol...
    The media would have asked where obuma was on the night of the Benghazi attack...where was he???

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Eric K Hall

    I used to watch your news organization until I realized you were in bed with political leaders on both sides of the aisle. You may have my attention now. Any move in the right direction is good. I just hope you keep moving towards independence from political talking points. I really don't see that happening in the end. Thank anyhow

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. bob kalb

    They do not need ameeting we have the 1st amendment. If the administration did not trash the constituiton they would know something about this. These people are trying their best to circumvent the constituiton. It is disgusting that the press only respond when they are the targets.

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Bern

    A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press should be an open one. We have a responsibility not to betray that".

    The press have betrayed the American people an helped reate this Obama nightmare. They get no sympathy from me!

    May 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. Hill411

    News organizations may have seen the light. The current Administration has truly enjoyed its dominant relationship with many News organizations. Someone may have actually turned on the light switch and that someone sits in the White House. Years of a very gullible Press & Media may have come to an end by a simple revelation. No, it was not an admission by the WH that it has lied to and spun the News organizations. Rather it was an attempt to strong-arm an adoring group of sycophants. The WH overstepped its usual tactic of singling out one news organization and embarrassed a number of 'hard core' reporters. The embarrassment will last only as long as the WH wishes. The current 'off the record' meeting with Holder will be allegedly attended by few true News organizations but this will quickly change. In the constant attempt to be first to reprt the News, reporters/journalists will fall back into adoring lines and report the NEws as it is released to them. No investigative reporting, no fact checks, no outside source confirmation....just the 'facts' as dictated by the WH.

    May 30, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. Thomas Lunde

    Nice to see where the laps dogs are. Shame on Politico.

    May 30, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. bc3b

    As the late Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell used to say, if Eric Holder was white, he'd be "long gone."

    May 30, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Deandre

    The whole point of Holder spying on the AP was that it could have the effect of stifling the freedom of the press by intimidating sources and reporters, thus keeping the public uninformed. Now Holder wants to deal with the situation by...keeping the public uninformed. Nice. Congratulations to the press for not playing along by getting played.

    May 30, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
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