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. teecee

    this corrupt affirmative action hire still trying to dictate to the press? And it seems the majority of the press if finally waking up and saying 'screw you'.

    May 30, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. philip

    The ultimate insider move. The government and the media get together behind closed doors to decide how the media will cover the government.

    May 30, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Vasco DeGama

    ze offishial talking point vill be distributed to be repeated VERBATIM. HEIL OBAMA!

    May 30, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  4. Anonymous

    OTR for a full ranges of response... huh; how about we follow and abide the Constitution

    May 30, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. kevin

    One more question you can not leave Obama out of all this, but wait yes you can because he doesn't know about all the other things going on. He is working hard to find everybody a good paying job. Oh wait he can't do that ,that is somebody else 's fault too.

    May 30, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  6. Patrick

    Step one ladies and gentleman of da press....we will learn ze goosestep....

    May 30, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  7. bob

    The official said the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy." - As long as the press can be depended upon to be the administrations propagnada mouthpiece, otherwise it's off with thier heads!

    May 30, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. tisi

    only this administration would think it acceptable to demand the media play by their rules. The issue is that the media made this bed. They are the ones that have fallen head over heals for democrats. the media has covered for and ignored so many things pertaining to democrats to the point this administration is not use to any criticism and has come to expect zero accountability. The Media has failed this Nation.

    May 30, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  9. William

    Nothing this public political figure does with the media should be off the record. Especially when he wants to discuss the controversies he is involved in. When will this administration learn their tactics only brings more suspicion?

    May 30, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  10. Dave in Flyover

    What? No OTR meetings? This is just Chicago style politics as usual. So the MSM has a hint of ethics. Let's hope they return to the original mission of journalism: Keeping government honest.

    May 30, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  11. Terri Skidmore

    Holder is a treasonous liar and should go to the Fed Pen for everything he's done for the last several decades. I'm glad the press is finally, partially opening one eye to this corrupt administration.

    May 30, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. alohajonny

    More propaganda from the Nixon White House

    May 30, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  13. J. Moore

    So as them lemmings slowly awake from their long sleep, Politico continues to carry the water. Too bad the bucket is full of holes.

    May 30, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. Edward Boothe

    The "Justice" department has shut down freedom of the press. The IRS is auditing anyone who's political or religious beliefs that the Obamanations do not agree with. bankrupting many of them. The White Hose is lying about letting four patriots die without turning a hand to help them. As Dennis Miller said last night on the OReilly show, "it is over, the United States is gone". The Communists have succeeded in destroying the greatest democracy in the history of the world.

    May 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. gphx

    Seriously, just how stupid can this administration be? I hope they just continue to rile up the press. Perhaps they are finally waking up.

    May 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  16. Jim

    Well its about time the press is starting to see this Admin for what it is.....finally tired of being used. I turned to MSNBC last night just to see what they were saying on the Holder lying story. To here them say he didn't lie when it was so clear is amazing.I don't know how these people sleep at night only worse thing is I think they actually believe what they are reporting.......sheep

    May 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Bernardo Stevens

    Kudos to AP and the NY Times. Holder should be put under oath and cross-examined.

    May 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. Mat the Mellow

    Here's what I think the AP should do: They should attend the OTR meeting with Holder and then the second they leave it, report every thing that was discussed and list all of the other "news" organizations (Obama's propaganda agents) that were there. Hell, the AP could even make up things that were said during the meeting if they want to – who would be the wiser? The meetings were "Off the record", after all.

    May 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  19. John

    So the Attorney General needs to be guarded when he talks about the 1st Amendment publicly. He cannot tell the public what he really thinks about freedom of the press. The people who voted for Barrack Obama, or did not vote at all, have the Justice Department they deserve.

    May 30, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. Fishsnot

    Holder can't/shouldn't be allowed to continue on, HE NEEDS TO RESIGN or SOMEHOW BE TERMINATED. As for being the No. 1 law official, HE SURE LIES A LOT!

    May 30, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. Flash

    You're not fooling anyone you know. Most US citizens know you are still just political operatives for the lefties posing as "objective journalists". You should all be arrested and charged with fraud.

    May 30, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  22. Eric

    So Holder will be having an off the record meeting with the Politico? Great job Obozo Administration!

    May 30, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  23. TheBerean

    "A" People hire "A" People (Condolesa). "B" People hire "C" People. Obama hires Holder.

    May 30, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. Karen

    I will watch CNN tonight.

    May 30, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. TxWrstmkr

    I see, more of "The Most Transparent Administration in Years" ! Any member of the press who goes along with this is absolutely part of the problem. The Press has been in the Dems pocket for years, and now they get burned by the crooks in the administration with the AP scandal. But the POTUS wants business as usual. Sorry 'bout yer luck boys. You made the bed.....

    May 30, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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