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. SuperD

    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.

    DUDE YOU ARE SO BLIND, DO US A FAVOR AND DON'T VOTE NEXT ELECTION

    May 30, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. len

    I am amazed that CNN & AP Balked. Don't they realize that 0 will use Wilsons 'muzzle the media' law, if they try to stop peddling his lies?. I am puzzled that 0, who is worshipped by the press, would try to alienate any of them. Just a nod and a smile and they would swoon over the tingling in their legs.

    May 30, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Nick

    Whether they go to the meeting or not isn't meaningful. it's whether they come back from the meeting and return to what they are supposed to be – a non-partisan reporter of facts, and a seeker of truth.

    May 30, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. mixplix

    The fear of the truth, otherwise the press would be welcomed. Same as their closed door meeting of the past. Is America finally waking up?

    May 30, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Neil

    Notice that the administration's lapdog press is trying to distance themselves from this administration now that the administration's bad motives have been exposed.

    Fox going going because that is what good reporters do: speak truth to power but give power a chance to explain their position (on or off the record).

    May 30, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. garyo

    Is the majority of this country just too stupid to realize we are being Governed by criminals who are using absolute power and tragedies to take your basic rights away, or do they just not care, I don't get it, this isn't about party affiliation this is about your rights as a citizen, you don't work for the the Gov, they work for you.

    May 30, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. snakeplissken

    Holder's picture is priceless. Do you need any more convincing?

    May 30, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. delquattro

    Politico: The online version of MSNBC.

    May 30, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Anonymous

    The press is taking the wrong approach - they should say "we are attending the meeting, and it WILL be ON the record."

    May 30, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Does anyone here think its a good idea for any media outlet to publish operational details of counter-terrorism measures? Since when did the Right take a casual attitude towards national security issues, except when it is to their political advantage?

    May 30, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "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."

    Double-standard:

    Someone who wants to commit a federal crime by leaking sensitive classified national security information: "Oh my...we have to be able to grant that criminal de facto immunity by immunizing ourselves from any of it being accessible to law enforcement!!!!! If not, then nobody will ever come to us!!!!"

    Attorney General or some other official high in gov't wants to talk privately with "news" organizations and seek their input on policy decisions: "This all has to be public and who gives a damn if that means the gov't never comes to us to seek our input on policies that would effect us."

    Bogus. This is just some of these "news" organizations throwing a tantrum over the mere idea that the gov't might take actions to prosecute the leakers when it's this kind of information, and thereby make them have to think twice about running the leak gravy train to the press. No no...the press wants to be able to essentially offer leakers immunity by inserting themselves between the crime and its prosecution. Someone want to show us in the criminal statutes in question here where it says leaking this information was a crime "unless the leak was made to the press"??? Hmmm?

    May 30, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Ellie Lightt

    Well Well Mr. Holder it is cathing up to ya .. time for Obumbles to have another PARTY at the WhiteHouse and the Party Favours will be A PRESIDENTAL PARDONS - ALL AROUND I would not be surprized if you dont have one allready – along with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi

    May 30, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. nedarc

    The arrogance and hubris is staggering...Not only are they guilty as sin but now they are telling the Media how to ask them questions and what not to ask...This reminds me of a 'sit down' with STALIN !

    May 30, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. Ellie Lightt

    Well Well Mr. Holder it is cathing up to ya .. time for Obumbles to have another PARTY at the WhiteHouse and the Party Favours will be A FREE OBAMA PHONE & FREE PRESIDENTAL PARDONS – ALL AROUND I would not be surprized if you dont have one allready – along with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi

    May 30, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. leasecommander

    It's pretty sad when the highest ranking law enforcement official in the US is caught lying about his actions and then trying to "weasel out" of admitting these lies under oath, he wants to do it "off the record" so no one can quote him.
    I got an idea, maybe we can just tap his phones and his e-mail, yeah that might work !!!!

    May 30, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. The fact of the matter

    Off the record? Something fishy is going on... not surprising anytime Holder is involved.

    May 30, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Walter

    It is beyond pathetic watching the libs try and spin this. Give it up libbies; there is absolutely no way to put a positive spin on this. Your verbal diarrhea about a "witch hunt" is just that.

    May 30, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. pat

    This administration is both criminal and gutless. They provide us with proof day in and day out. Anyone with eyes can see it , but many fools ignore, dismiss, and cover it up.
    The blood of the dead from the fast and furious weapons and the heroes of behghazi are on their hands

    May 30, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Kate

    I thought this administration was all about transparency.

    May 30, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. Deathstalker74

    John Harris of Politico is such a sell out. Every other major news organization fully understands that this administration is NOT being transparent in holding these off-the-record meetings to cover up their inappropriate actions against the AP and Fox. Politico is no better than the Washington Post and MSNBC. In the tank 100%.

    May 30, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. BDA Truth

    I can't be;leive you not going to meeet with this lying totalitarian fascist, there's going to be Free Donuts (Isn't that what get's you "journalists" to the WH press office every day)

    May 30, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. jlaw

    The left media is going to set holder up as the fall guy to save Obama that's why they're not going

    May 30, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. TheHutMaster

    The simple, and long over due, solution is..... Jail The fake turd in the oval office, ALL his croneys (to include gasbag holder). Jail Polosi, Hillary, and all the other gasbags that call them selves public servants(they have forgoten the fact that they work for US).

    Then we bring in a cross section of PROFESSIONAL Citizens to repair our relations with the world. End the silly rock throwing (and expensive) FAKE WARS. Jail Bush and Chenney (Halobertian too) for their destruction of the twin towers.

    See, WE the PEOPLE have a plan!

    May 30, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. John Marshall

    Reporters dont trust the one that betrays THEIR trust, now if its news that the same people did it to somebody else thats different.

    May 30, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Easygoing7

    Scary when the head attorney wants discussions "off the record." That would sound alarms!

    May 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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