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

    AG Eric Holder needs to reconsider this stipulation. How else can our commander-in-chief learn the details of this controversy. "All I know is what I read in the New York Times" Barack H. Obama

    May 30, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. J

    So He thinks set can set the RECORD straight by keeping everything OFF THE RECORD??? Typical CRIMINAL mentality. He's REALLY going to be the fool when the details ARE LEAKED!!!

    May 30, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. Ghostwriter

    Doesn't Issa want some closed door interviews himself?

    Is transparency only required of democrats?

    May 30, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Dennis

    He is going to say off the record................Bush did it.

    May 30, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Ghostwriter

    Some are going, some aren't. From both sides of the aisle. How anything more can be taken from this only shows how the rabid right is so anxious for anything to have on democrats that they are lickin' their chops.

    May 30, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. shorewater

    Apparently Holder never learned about our freedom of the press and speech in his academic career. At least Obama's statement that his would be the most transparent administration on record turned out to be just a political statement that we shouldn't have taken seriously. Now we know how deep and entrenched Obama's actions are at repressing all kinds of freedoms . . . freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from a repressive government that wants to reach into every corner of a person's life and challenge it with regulations, mandates, taxes, etc. I think it is worse than any of Glen Beck predictions!! We are dealing with tyrants who must be brought in check!

    May 30, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Cesar

    Forget Holder's shady meeting. What is Obama up to while everyone is distracted with this?

    May 30, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Oakie Wilson

    Holder has been a good soldier for his communist inspired leaders.

    He will be well rewarded for his effort, just like terrorists Ayers and Dohrn who now occupy high status college tenure.

    Not to mention Anita Hill, after she almost sunk Justice Thomas.

    May 30, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  9. Oakie Wilson

    I can imagine Holders script. , "Look here folks, off the record,, we're all Democrats here, I can't give you all the details of the problems we have because those Republicans would just use it against President Obama, remember we're all in this together".

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