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.”

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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. Marbran

    OTR to encourage a full exchange of ideas? I call bullshiite on that one. You can have a full exchange in the open, too, unless your goal is to silence the media by bracketing what they can and cannot publish. This guy has got to go!

    May 30, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. Bretfox

    Quote from article: "But Politico posted an item on its website saying editor-in-chief John Harris plans to attend one of the meetings with Holder."

    Under the current circumstances everything needs to be in the open. Politico in a way is getting too cozy with powerful politicians who obviously desire to control the media for their own agenda. Politico you are losing brownie points with your readers by acquiescing to the demands of Holder.

    May 30, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. opusxxvii

    When the going gets tough, the rats run for the hills!

    Just a few weeks ago these sycophantic media outlets, AP, NYT & CNN, would have jumped at such a meeting to shore up friendships with such high-ups in the administration. But now, they smell the decay and not only want to distance themselves from the corruption, but now there's blood in the water and they want some meet, something juicy to report. "Off the record" meetings just won't cut it anymore!

    Besides, how on earth could such a meeting EVER be beneficial to the public, whom news organizations are intended to serve (sorry for my idealism)? Well, it doesn't serve the public one bit and it's about time this love affair between the Obama administration and the mainstream press comes to an end. Now Barry's buddies will have to learn to walk in everyone else's shoes and feel the glowing embers for themselves.

    May 30, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  4. Larrybud

    It's funny watching these Obama lapdogs take one just like the political enemies of this administration have. You can't pick and choose which amendments you guys support!

    May 30, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  5. Lonni

    Just the fact that Holder is asking the Media to be "off-the-record" reveals a taint of secrecy. Were I a Journalist/Reporter/Pundit, I would also refuse to attend. Most everything surrounding Obama and his Administration has been "off-the-record" and we see how that has worked out. Not good. No, not good at all.

    May 30, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  6. blacknblue2

    Off the record? Seems like a guy that wants to keep hiding something.

    May 30, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  7. snoopy

    Well the lapdogs like Politico,cnn,etc. will definitely attend because they are not jornalists.They are merely fellow democrats.

    May 30, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  8. EP

    Really? MSM has a spine? Wow.

    May 30, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  9. sandiego1969

    Nice try, Eric. I guess the "slobbering love affair" with the media is pretty much over.

    May 30, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. Bretfox

    Bravo to AP, NYT, CNN and Huffington Post.

    May 30, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. Meme

    It's long past time for Holder to go. This in-your-face obstinance of Holder and others in the Obama Adminstration is finally being felt by the media because their own ox is being gored. The Mainstream Media long ago gave up any pretense of being a fair arbiter and has looked he other way or made up excuses for the outright lies and illegalities of this Administration.

    Suddenly, they're concerned about their ethics or their job or of holding "A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press... We have a responsibility not to betray that." Yet how many of these same people took part in the exposed JournOList calls made regularly with this Administration in order to get the daily talking points and to learn how they were to portray the story of the day? Once this outrage was exposed they just went about it in a different way. I'm not buying their outrage over "freedom of the press".

    May 30, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  12. Sam

    It is funny too see how these people want to bend the rule of law so it can accommodate their agenda...Holder is nothing more than a crook, he must go!

    May 30, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  13. TruSkeptik

    The hand that feeds you, the hand that bleeds you. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE. Lie down with fools, wake up stupid. the damage to the press is irreparable. No amount of Johnny-come-lately outrage with suffice.

    May 30, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  14. SouthTexas

    Amazing, the media finally awakens. Not that this will change anything, but it's a start.

    May 30, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. Starvin Marvin

    I'm shocked that the AP and NYT would even offer up the pretense of having any semblance of integrity remaining in their souls. No doubt there's an ulterior motive??

    May 30, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  16. urstrange

    P.utting O.bama L.ies I.n T.ext I.nfecting C.urrent O.pinion specializes in innuendo news and consistently leaks OTR that the Propagandist in Chief wants out, especially what he garners from the IRS and wiretapping to destroy his criticizers, political opponents and anyone who gets close to exposing his personal mystery history. I'm just amazed that C.rap N.ot N.ews and the Huff & Puff, which never had trouble before being the BOGUS POTUS' lie whisperers aren't on board with HOLD EM UP's OTR cover-up.

    May 30, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  17. jim

    Politico will attend, what a shock.

    May 30, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  18. George

    LOL...An off the record meeting with a guy who's investigating himself....the most transparent administration EVER. You can't make this stuff up.

    However this is just a lover's spat with Obama and the media. He'll slo-jamon Kimmel again or visit Letterman in the sex bunker or be "eye candy" on the view again and they'll all throw their panties at the stage.

    May 30, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  19. Kyle Gerrvis

    Could the BSM be waking up?

    A Bad Relationship: How the Press Came To Love Obama More Than Itself
    As the scandals pile up, the press keeps finding excuses for the president, writes Stuart Stevens.(thedailybeast)

    May 30, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  20. tedcohen

    When anyone says off-the-record conversations are necessary "to encourage a full exchange of ideas" it means when they speak on the record they are making it all up.

    May 30, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  21. T'Shekawana

    Marry Oprah already and get off the hook.

    May 30, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  22. Ratt

    FTA: "But Politico posted an item on its website saying editor-in-chief John Harris plans to attend one of the meetings with Holder."

    Well, now we know who the patsy is.

    May 30, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. johnnyapples

    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. Of course he does. Otherwise, how fooish would it look for Politico to respond "on the record" that they made it up or repeated the talking points provided by the Whitehouse that morning.

    May 30, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  24. Titaniumman

    Of course politico will attend after all they are an Obama lap dog

    May 30, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. tedcohen

    When anyone requires OTR conversations "to encourage a full exchange of ideas" you know what they mean...

    May 30, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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