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

    You can't really blame Holder for wanting to have an off the record meeting given the fact that all of the on record meetings have proven him to be a liar.

    May 30, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. The Dubs

    IOh look non-news! Why would anyone in the press waste their time going to an off-the-record briefing? That would be like asking a NASCAR driver to sit in a race car and not drive.

    May 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Kerri

    The blatant corruption of this whole administration turns my stomach. Now the media is doing a little "We're the press, can't do that dance" after they elected this fiasco?......I helped the first time, what an idiot I was......

    May 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Joe Sixpack

    The rampant corruption within the Barack Hussein Obama Administration makes the Nixon Administration look like criminal novices...

    May 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. PeterD

    The same Media is campaigning hard to Put Obama's face on Mt Rushmore.

    May 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. John

    Holder, your jilted girlfriend needs more than an OTR.

    May 30, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Annie

    I do not believe news media outlets have a obligation to help any administration with information leaks that come from the administration. It seems to me more of a problem for the administration. What Holder did was criminal and should be held accountable. It looks more like a failure of the administration to investigate their own employees. Fire the boss that can't control his employees!!!

    May 30, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. jnpa

    In a way I don't blame Holder. There is such a witch hunt to bash anyone in the Obama administration solely for the purpose of getting a news scoop that anything that is said by Holder will be blown out of proportion, especially by FoxNews.

    May 30, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. trixlette

    Off the record, means, we will hold a meeting and I will tell you all what to say and what to report or else there will be consequences.

    May 30, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. spasticjack

    Seems as if the MSM has to decide between their politcal agenda and profit,,,,

    May 30, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. trixlette

    Off the record, meaning, Sit down, I will tell you what to say, when to say it, whom to say it to, and if you do not comply, you will regret it, we will send the IRS after you.

    May 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. Robo

    Yet, these same organizations met with Carney for his OTR "press conference" on how to be quiet about the scandals. And this is the same media who is not reporting the known fact that the IRS illegally obtain private medical records (NOT BILLING INFORMATION!) HIPAA protected medical records!

    May 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Thor Odenan

    it's really scary stuff when you have very high ranking government officials wanting to control the press and completely subjugate the 1st amendment. i too share a renewed optimism about our news media, regardless of their political leanings.

    May 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. lynnworldblog

    "A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas." Nope this simply doesn't pass the smell test. This regime has things to hide and they don't LIKE, EVEN REMOTELY LIKE, the concept of a free press and open dialogue. It's not Chicago style!

    Holder's dirty like John Mitchell was dirty during the Watergate era. Keep it all open!

    May 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. art180

    Holder has lied for so long and so many times that it is second nature. He has become careless with his actions and his lies and has obviously assumed the media would bend over with their head up their ying-yang as they normally do. Well, this time it was ABOUT the media so it didn't happen. I wish there was as much outrage about Benghazi and Fast and Furious but I suppose FoxNews is the only one asking the tough questions. What is the fascination with the media when it comes to Obama's administration? Do two black men just get an automatic pass to do what they want; say what they want, and scream "rascist!" if you stand up to neither nefarious activity?

    May 30, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. randja

    politico has long been an obama shill and will remain one. holder is a criminal and so is his boss. if this were a GOP administration the demotards would be demanding a resignation and or a specail prosecutor , if the president were white he would ave been impeached already . the media may be starting to grow its sack back but they are still co conspirators in the obamanations rule

    May 30, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. Jaimie

    "No off record meetings". All their meetings are off the record anyway. Who are they trying to fool? We know how this works and what time it is. Do not insult our intelligence.

    May 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. Anotha Damn Texan

    It's only a show to gain public trust while they meet behind closed doors in secret meetings.

    SECESSION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION.

    May 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. soabsurd

    CNN has provided cover for this administration since day one.

    May 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Washington Report

    Face it. All Obama or his officials need to do to get Politico to attend or applaud, is reach around behind themself "& pull the Politico staff out of their backside.

    May 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Jim

    Politico will be there with kneepads on!

    May 30, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. Kevin

    I'm glad the press is doing the right thing, glad to see they finally have a backbone and not be pushed around by the DOJ who thinks they are above the law

    May 30, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Lewnaticink

    i guess the news media doesnt like to be treated like they treat others, if the freedom of press dissappears it will be from the corruption of the new medias own doing. there lack of interest to print the truth is in there laps alone, even the news media is responsable for there actions, and they will pay dearly, they have lost the trust of the public, and it shows in there ratings. the job they have chosen to do is be the presidents butt wiper and it fits them well. the freedom of the press will dissapear long before the right to bear arms, we will fight for are rights for guns,we wont fight for the news media helpping sink the country. NEWS MEDIA , YOU HAVE PICKED YOUR SIDE IN THE BATTLE FOR FREEDOM, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR READERS AND WATCHERS, SO LIKE THE PRESIDENT , YOU ARE AN EMPTY CHAIR

    May 30, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. camaro guy

    Ever wonder why government officials still use their older style Blackberry phones? ANSWER: Because the texts between users are not stored, or can be accessed by the media or public domain.

    May 30, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. John Q

    Some transparency... Hard to be transparent when "everything" is some national security issue for this administration. In other words, anything that may be politically embarrassing in ANY manner or on the record for the Prez to be questioned about at some point, is thus a closely guarded secret. That is except for what THEY want to leak, then it's OK. Phhhttttt....

    May 30, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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