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

    The Liberal news media grew a conscience? Must be their ratings are in the toilet.

    May 30, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  2. Jerell Strawn

    CNN is still dutifully an organ of the government; and they still gladly embrace Holder's organ.

    May 30, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  3. Putholderinprison

    Eric Holder needs to be locked up already. Enough with this circus.

    May 30, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  4. Brent DubYa

    Off the record, just between you and me; I never thought I would side with the NY Times and CNN on something again.

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  5. Charles

    I guess the reporters are getting fed up with getting told what they can and can't report.

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  6. Skipper

    I think you should not do an "off the record" with the AG but I also think open and honest meetings on the IRS as a I political arm of the Administrative branch and the Benghazi issue should be the rule also. Secret meetings got us where we are in all the coverups. Time to put the light of honesty on what has been going on. The people are disgusted with what norm is is DC. Time for the press to do its job and quit socializing with the politicians.

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  7. M.C.

    "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.

    Too Late...the press has already betrayed America by NOT openly reporting hard news stories.

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. Angelo

    "Off the record" means this is how I want you guys to report on me. Kudos to those who will not attend. BTW, did Fox get an invite?

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  9. Moreliberty

    The more power a government has, regardless of party, the liberty and freedoms the individual has.

    May 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  10. Carolyn

    they dont trust holder. do u?

    May 30, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  11. peterkuck

    Politico is in the tank for this administration. They might as well be the propaganda arm for the Democrat Party.
    They have lost any credibility as an unbiased source

    May 30, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  12. Jersey Joe

    The most open administration in history!! As Americans we should all be ashamed that people like this were put into office based on our vote. (I realize the AG is appointed....but this administration has a pattern)

    May 30, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  13. nvrat"

    Another Off The Record meeting to tell the Press what to say and do? I commend those that refuse to attend because Obama and Holder want`s to sooth the reporters feathers for monkeying around with their 1st amendment rights. The officials in this administration are about as forth coming as a explosion when it comes to the truth.

    May 30, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  14. Bill Melton

    Is this off the record???

    May 30, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  15. Betsy Potter

    Eric Holder lies under oath. What's the point of a private meeting of any kind?

    May 30, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  16. Shawn

    Can a subpoena be emailed?

    May 30, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  17. Doug

    Holder and his boss both need to be in prison.

    May 30, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  18. Rick

    For the promise of "the most transparent presidency ever" there sure are a lot of wiretapping, spying, closed door and off the record meetings.

    May 30, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  19. Stazz

    I think the AP should secretly record this meeting (especially who is in attendance), and publish it!

    May 30, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  20. Hillcoguy

    President Barack Obama directed the attorney general to review guidelines for investigations
    ============================================================================
    Those "guidelines" already exist. It's called the Constitution of the United States. Why isn't the admin not familiar with this long existing document?

    May 30, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  21. fredgarvinmp

    NOW their allies revolt?!?!?!?

    Where were you when you SHOULD HAVE been vetting these criminals?!?!?!?!

    May 30, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  22. Stephen Johnson

    Off the record? Good grief!

    Holder has been lawyered up. He doesn't want to say anything that he can't deny later.

    The news organizations were right to pull out of this charade. It's a waste of their time, and an insult to their intelligence

    May 30, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  23. HardCase

    Evidently some salt has hit the slug.

    May 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  24. Earl

    This is a show and fraud by the refusing media or maybe, not likely, they have started to see the regime as it is, not as they wish it to be.

    May 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. bnchy

    Translation of "Off the Record" meeting: "Hey, media friends, we all know you hate Republicans and especially Conservatives as much as I do so let's get together so I can tell you what happened and how you can spin it and lie to help me get out of this mess"

    May 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
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