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.

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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. ViewFromMyWindow

    Good for CNN and the others who see that this is one instance – and one topic – where the entire conversation MUST be "on the record". Yes, there are other circumstances where off-the-record discussions are appropriate, but not this one.

    May 30, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. ironmike

    lair lair pants on fire

    May 30, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. jj74

    More arrogance!

    Still waiting to see the AG's recusal in writing...hmmmm....wonder where that is?

    May 30, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Len

    Good to see that Intelligent members of the So far still FREE PRESS are tired of listening to more Empty words by Holder and possibly additional LIES.

    May 30, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Joe

    It is time for not only Holder to resign, but Obama, Pelosi, Boxer, Durban, Reid and that wack-job from Minnesota (Franken).

    These people, as well as a lot of other Lib-Dems are KILLING THIS COUNTRY.

    May 30, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Dennis In Texas

    There is no such thing as off the record in government by the people and for the people. It si hipocritical from my experience working on government projects. Off the record would have been fraud. This is transperency?

    confused....

    May 30, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Dennis In Texas

    Holder = No credibility

    May 30, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Disgusted American

    And this is the most transparent administration in history???? You got what you wanted america

    May 30, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Jeff

    What is an "off the record meeting"? Is it like, let's get all our stories straight, and, you're still gonna run flack for us, right?

    May 30, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. blakenaustin

    This compulsive liar and criminal belongs in a federal prison not as U.S. attorney general.

    May 30, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Randy Garvin

    Whatever happened to all the "transparency and openness" this administration promised? The US Attorney General wants to have off the record meetings with the press? Really???

    May 30, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    This whole administration has ZERO credibility.

    May 30, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Jonny

    Maybe since Holder lies all the time, some of these journalists should attend this "off the record" meeting and record every word that is said. If our leaders don't care why should the media?

    May 30, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. suibne

    get rid of disqus get rid of obama. get rid of the irs.

    May 30, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. ChanHol

    Media made a huge mistake. They should have attended the meeting, but "secretly" made it on-the-record!

    May 30, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Attorney Gen Holder got a warrant to sunpoena one individual leaking classified nuclear information and the right wing media and republicans are on a frenzy to bash the black man. From 2001 to 2007 under GWB's WARRANTLESS NSA surveillance program, the phone records, phone conservations, emails, web browsing, text messaging and bank transactions of millions of ordinary Americans not linked to any form of terrorism were monitored and stored in a government data base system. And where was the outrage from conservatives? O' and by the way, Bush claimed that his WARRANTLESS spy program was justified because it was for national security reasons. Welcome to 21st century Jim Crow: Different rules for whites Only and different rules for blacks Only. Well, ONLY in America. This racist bigoted country and its phony democracy doesn't cease to amaze me.

    May 30, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Chris

    Most transparent administration ever....who said that?

    May 30, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. VL

    Off the record meeting? So he is hiding something. He is the boss of DOJ and he is acting like a mafia guy. Unbelievable.

    May 30, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Sloane ranger

    Eric Holder's speech on GUN RUNNING which he gave on April 2, 2009 in Cuernavaca, Mexico was posted on the DOJ websit no less. The entire speech! Yet he claimed during the Fast & Furious hearings he had only heard of it "a few weeks prior". He lied then and he's still at it now so impeachment means nothing. We are now into TREASON.
    He should be fired and then prosecuted.

    May 30, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Maychel

    Send a few peeps for an "off-the-record" conversation with Holder and then have them "leak" the conversation to the outlets who didn't attend. Save us taxpayers money by making the "leakers" the same set of folks the government already raided. No new subpoenas required.

    May 30, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. The Facts

    Basically the Media is saying .. you can screw the people.

    But don't screw the media.. WE made you.. you didn't.

    May 30, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Paul

    Time for Holder to go the sooner the better. We can all hope Reid does not run again and retires.

    May 30, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Fastgirl

    If you aren't doing anything wrong why the need to have an off the record meeting witht he press? For once the majority of the press is doing the right thing.

    May 30, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Wally

    So the Washington Post guy says "we will attend this off-the-record meeting and then report on it vigorously" ... does anyone else see the irony there?

    *sigh* ... "off the record" basically means that you WON'T report on it (technically, that you wont' attribute anything said to the guy who actually said it), so if you say you're going to the meeting and WILL report on it, then by definition it is not "off the record", is it? ... they are making my head hurt.

    May 30, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. mynameis

    Interesting how most of these media outlets who have been FAVORABLY reporting on behalf of the Administration for the last 5 years all of a sudden feel a moral obligation to reporting news objectively?? Reading between the lines on these types of public facing controversies, usually helps you to figure out the planned results. When the issues deal with Washington political scandals the 2 possible outcomes are, retire early a millionaire, or move on unscathed and then retire a millionaire. You can certainly thank the media for helping with the peoples limited choices.

    May 30, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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