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.”

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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. MoreFreedom

    Holder says he wants an off the record meeting to encourage "a full exchange of ideas." But this is about Holder's wiretaps of journalists who talk to whistle blowers. And one would think a meeting about an "exchange of ideas" doesn't need to be off the record, as they are just ideas for discussion. So the question about why Holder wants an off the record meeting hasn't been answered. But we can speculate.

    I believe Holder wants an off the record meeting to shape a narrative he wants the press to promote. By being off the record, there's no record of false statements for which to hold him accountable. He's already likely perjured himself before Congress.

    Seems to me, a pre-requisite skill to work for Obama, one has to be able to lie with a straight face, just like Obama.

    May 30, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  2. James Ralston

    An off the record meeting about freedom of the press? Sounds like a cover up to me.

    May 30, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  3. OolongWay

    Good for those members of the press who are standing firm and not giving into these power mad people.

    May 30, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  4. Cynthia

    For the first time in five years I am proud of journalists. Hope it lasts.

    May 30, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  5. dialogos68

    This corrupt administration are so blatent. It's like they think they are still in Chicago

    May 30, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  6. Marsh hen

    A government who doesn't want to go on public record is the first step to tyranny.

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  7. Sam

    The meeting has only one objective, Soviet style.

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  8. ACV

    It isn't the media's role to collaborate with the AG to work out ideas on how to investigate. Their role is to report in the interest of the American people. If the AG broke laws, and it looks like he did, that's HIS problem.

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  9. Donny Griffin

    To say Holder has a longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy, is like an abortion doctor saying he loves children.

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  10. phil s

    you guys should all go and then later report everything that was said. Payback time!

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  11. Joe Reg

    Maybe the AP should attend and record the conversation. Or at least leak the discussion since it is probably illegal to record a politician in DC without permission.

    May 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  12. Danno

    The arrogance of this administration is unbelievable !!!

    May 30, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  13. John Bissell

    I'm sure CNN will be there with bells on.

    May 30, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  14. Craig

    You don't need a meeting to see this government is for sale to the highest bidder.

    May 30, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  15. bb_959

    You can bet the farm that Fox and Drudge will not be there. The ones attending the meeting will be receiving their marching orders as to what to print for the koolaid drinkers to swallow.

    May 30, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. Mark Rude

    So this is what it takes for you morons in the "media' to get riled up. Huh

    May 30, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  17. RWN

    Stupid is as stupid does....Go to the meeting then report on it. What are they going to do, yell at you for lying about being OTR or something? Like you're going to a meeting where a guy who lied to Congress last week is going to tell you the truth all of a sudden? Really? You are the press. You are supposed to be fighting with the WH and it's policies, R-D or whatever the party is. Get back to work and report..

    May 30, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  18. maxheadroom

    He's not going to tell you anything classified in this OTR meeting. He going to strongarm the press. Its your duty to report what Holder says.

    May 30, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. Jeff

    Of course Politico has no problem with it, I will give it to CNN for standing up.

    May 30, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  20. glenn

    Thank God. At last the press is exhibiting some common sense. These hide behind the "non leader" I don't know nothing employes that we pay are pissing me off.

    May 30, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  21. ffff

    Holder looks like a mi x of Grucho Marx and a mouse is this guy Italian?

    May 30, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  22. GTFO2016

    Was Fox News invited?

    May 30, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  23. Tom

    The people from Politico won't be alone. They can talk to the MSNBC crowd.

    May 30, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  24. JW Stallings

    Pure arrogance. Pure Stupidity. The Media were complicit from the beginning in electing the buffoon to the White House, no real background check on who was behind the community organizer, no vetting of who he was. Now that his arrogance has crossed the holy grail of the free press, they are offended. Thanks America. Perhaps now you will wake up to what the intelligent ones knew the whole time.

    May 30, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  25. prov1322

    The regime stenographers are revolting now?!

    May 30, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
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