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. rick in Texas

    all media is propaganda to what ever you want to believe. It is so hard to decipher the truth in anything or anyone any more.Even the internet is 90% "dis" or misinformation on it. Where did I learn that?.......the internet. :-)

    May 30, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Carla Bonney

    No, actually Greta mentioned that James Rosen is going to attend.
    Since it is off the record, he will be giving Eric Holder a "Piece of his mind"

    May 30, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. JohnRJohnson

    The government's need for secrecy in certain matters involving national security is this day and age should be apparent to everyone. Freedom of the press is not an open-ended, unconditional right. It obviously has its limits, like every other right provided by the Constitution, including freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right not to self-incriminate. All of these rights come with necessary caveats. Over-simplifying constitutional rights is as dangerous as bending those rights. Past administrations, just in my life time, have had special relationships with newspaper publishers and could call them to have a story pulled because it dealt with a national security issue. Kennedy did this many times during the Cuban Missile Crisis and, certainly, Ronald Reagan did it throughout his presidency. So pillorying Attorney General Holder for wanting an "off the record discussion" with media representatives to better define some of the many fuzzy areas of "freedom of the press" during a time when intelligence sources are at stake seems like a reasonable thing to me. Editors refusing to attend because it would be off the record are just grandstanding.

    May 30, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. cassius

    let the press obey the same laws the rest of us have to. we dont get advanced notice of search warrants or subpoenas, why should they be special? they are making money off of the news, they arent some special flowers.So they want it on the record. make them explain to the citizens of the US why they feel laws do not apply to them.

    May 30, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. DARNELL

    The Obama whitehouse is actually scarier than Bush!!!! Crazy

    May 30, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Shawn

    Thank you CNN for your resolve. One of the first defenses for a free people is a free press. With all sincerity, I thank you.

    May 30, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Edward Boothe

    It stands to reason the Politico will be there. They are to the left of Carl Marx.

    May 30, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. DAC

    ?? I'm confused. Doesn't Obama, Holder, (formerly Clinton), Kerry, and the rest of the WH admin typically tell what those leftist propaganda rags should write and say? How is this meeting he's trying to schedule any different?
    I don't get it. They've been towing the DNC talking points line for Obama's entire tenure, why stop now?
    Oh, I know, Holder will fire a page or some "low level" employee that actually did the wire taps and all will go back to normal, where the MSM reports nothing bad on the president or WH, and CNN, ABC, CBS, The Times, The Post, The Globe, can go back to praising the sacred ground where Obama walks.

    May 30, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. SRussell55

    "This just in to the newsroom,,,,,, the IRS and Justice Department is tapping the phones at CNN." (most transparent,,,,,,, REALLY?????)

    May 30, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. mysimru

    How can anyone believe anything coming out of this very corrupt administration. All these scandals and not one person has been fired except General Petraus because of an affair (again how can you believe anything). We need to clean house.

    May 30, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. ss31704

    It looks like there will be a small meeting. Rosen is going to attend. So, off he record, he could wind up taking a swing a Holder. What good is going if it is "off the record" and the press will not be allowed to report on it?

    May 30, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Vince

    Yawn. How bout a jobs bill?

    May 30, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. brian

    it's about time media start to do their job.

    May 30, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Don McCoy

    LOL! All of these Obama stooges were fine with the way he did things until THEY felt the effects. Now they're all outraged. Unreal. Still, better late than never, I guess. Can't believe a word they say anyway.

    May 30, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. Jackson

    This government is as corrupt as they come.

    May 30, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. spawn44

    How's that VOTING FOR SOMEONE BECAUSE HE'S BLACK working out for you DEMOCRATIC FRAUDS. Doesn't matter if he is INELIGIBLE, RADICAL ANTI AMERICAN, DESPISES THIS COUNTRY. WAS RAISED A COMMUNIST. Isn't it wonderful we elected the first black. Huh, No it isn't. Next election I'm voting for someone just because he has a mole on the left side of their face.

    May 30, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Roc

    Unbelievable. Holder is a major player in the Obama crime syndicate. Not only are these people criminals, they are psychopaths.

    May 30, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. blanks

    John Harris of Politico must have some skeletons in the closet that he doesn't want the DOJ or IRS to find.

    May 30, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. DaveinIL

    Are we sure that Holder is actually a lawyer and not just a lobbyist who stays at HI express?

    May 30, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. garylee123

    Can't get a more open administration than this.

    May 30, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Orlando

    "A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas"

    "Off the record" means that the reporter can't name the source or quote anything the source says. This quote ( by an unnamed Justice Department official, incidentally) begs the question "Why will there only be full exchange of ideas as long as the press won't tell the citizens what those ideas are and who's ideas are they?"

    May 30, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Flechette

    I think that it is hilarious that the media is upset at Obama NOW when they find out what life has been like for the rest of us.

    MSNBC, AP, CNN, ABC, CBS and others: welcome to our world!

    May 30, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Regularguy22

    Holder and Nixon would have worked well together

    May 30, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Morefandave

    Is Politico sucking up, or are they attending in the hope that the government crocodile will eat them last, or both? Nobody should be attending that meeting unless armed with torches and pitchforks.

    May 30, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Pam from Iowa

    Sorry folks but the most corrupt admin ever was the one prior to Obama!
    Where was your anger then?????

    May 30, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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