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.”

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.

Kerry must answer Benghazi questions, House GOP says

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. Michael

    Politico is going to go because they believe obama and holder and need the talking points to protect Dear Leader.

    May 30, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  2. SeattleConservative

    While I wholeheartedly support the "new" media, Politico has now cemented its standing as a lapdog, happy to abandon any vestigial journalistic principles in exchange for "access." Even the Huffington Post knows better.
    That said, there may be a glimmer of actual journalism left in the AP, NYT and CNN. Maybe.

    May 30, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. Robb

    finally the media is showing some backbone against an administration that has gotten more passes on things than any in history! Regardless of what people say and think the problems with the IRS and AG office are direct reflections on President Obama. He appointed or promoted most all of the people these scandals are surrounding. Yes there is such thing as guilt by association, especially when you are one in charge with making cabinet decisions that lead to this debacle. Libs need to hold Obama as responsible as they would Hold any Republican.

    May 30, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Just Some Dude

    Naturally Politico will be there. Still the reliable lapdog for the White House...

    May 30, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. FrederickR

    Looks like some folks don't want to be an Accessory to Perjury.

    May 30, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Dan StPeter

    Even the MSM types are sick of these Stalinist tactics...maybe there's hope for America yet.

    May 30, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Boz

    The fact that Holder thinks he needs to have an "off the record" meeting tells me everything I need to know about what he really thinks of freedom of the press, he thinks he can control it and that he and the Administration have every moral and ethical right to ask the leadership of the MSM to support them in this endeavor.

    May 30, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Harvey Wade

    The official said the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the "Constitution" (including) First Amendment is essential to our democracy."
    There, Fixed that.

    May 30, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. BayouKiki

    "A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas." Translated - the sessions would be off the record so that the AG could later deny he said what they said he said

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  10. Drew McCarsky

    I am a critic of many of CNN and Huffington's reports and articles involving this administration. I believe that many of the "mainstream" news agencies have slanted issues to reflect the president and the administration as blameless in issues that many others have viewed as negative. I will however, give props when its deserved. and in this case- BRAVO! I commend you and the other News organizations for standing on what is appropriate and right. What is this nonsense about "off the record"? does that mean he says it now, and can change his lies..I mean story anytime he feels like it? Mr. Holder's wish to speak off the record is another blaring example of how untrustworthy he is and his total lack of integrity for the office that should be the utmost of trust and integrity. Fast and furious? Benghazi? and now this? Obama stated he had the utmost of faith in Holder. Mr Obama's choices for people he associates with has been a track record for failure-as his healthcare debacle, and his attempts at fixing our economic issues are.

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  11. Sandra

    Holder is just disturbing to listen to , look at, everything about him.

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. bob harris

    if this administration has nothing to hide,then why does holder's remarks have to be off the record.the president,as commander and chief,needs to tell the american people who and when was the order given to stand down in benghazi.was it during the first hour of the attack?the second hour? the third hour? when?

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. craniumlogos

    What will the O. Administration do if the media doesn't cover for them? I mean, would they actually have to start heeding the law or something silly like that? That whole "heed the law" thing is for Republicans, we've got a revolution to foment!

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. ES Pnsux

    An off the record meeting with Eric Holder sounds like a big waste of time and gasoline. Good for CNN, the NYT and AP. All Holder is going to do is make dumb suggestions about how he feels the press should do their job. Good luck with that.

    May 30, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. Kathryn

    Holder is going to talk his way out of this....cry to Politico, threaten them, promise them and do whatever it takes to make sure his comes out clean. We all know his type.

    May 30, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Bill

    osama obama is as dirty as can be in all of these scandals... Black Panthers, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, AP, Fox, et.al. and those yet to be discovered. He has motive, he is a community organizer, he has the “authority,” he's a Marxist, he's a liar, he's as dirty as can be. He projects he is above all of his scandals. He must be impeached and convicted, even if we end up with joe “gaffe-a-day” biteme. Biteme is dumb as dirt, but he is not un-American.

    May 30, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. More equal than others

    Was Fox News invited?

    May 30, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  18. ALamb

    This is so funny – it feels like a pathetic attempt on the part of Holder at getting his girlfriend back, the MSM that is.

    May 30, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  19. Timmy

    How fickle! "Journalism." Hah.

    May 30, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  20. Obamaroid_Ointment

    Why doesn't anybody trust Eric?

    May 30, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. labguy

    Shame on Politico. I am no fan of ideological biased news organizations like NYT or CNN but they sure got it right this time. Since when do we need to worry about a free press offering a "full exchange" in meetings with senior Whitehouse staff? Oh..that's right, when there is a risk of corrupt politicians, drunk on power, using off the record comments and questions by quarantined reporters as motivation for labeling them enemies and traitors. How dare the weak leaders at Politico betray the public like this.

    May 30, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  22. dave

    GUIDLINES!!!.....As much as I think the media generally demonstrates unacceptable amounts of bias, in EITHER direction;
    I find it abhorrent that a senior member, or any member of OUR government, would think it acceptable to try and impose "guidelines" on the reporting of said government. AS IF IT WERE THEIR JOB TO DO THE BIDDING OF THAT GOVERNMENT, TO MEET THEIR ENDS AND AGENDA, AND NOT THOSE OF THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    People of this great nation....left and right....this government is in the infancy of tyranny.....and who knows by whom and when those reigns will be cast upon us....it is apparently of no use ANYBODY...to shout each other down because we think "our guy is better than your guy" anymore......I honestly can't tell you when or where this started....it certainly didn't START with Obama....but he has certainly been passed the torch and he and his ilk are more than comfortable with this type of governance.....this should at least make you stir in your sleep.....

    May 30, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. JackNutz

    I guess the honeymoon is over. This is a pretty heady stance for a network that carried his water for all these years.

    May 30, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Cam

    It is obvious that "Politico" is state-run media.

    May 30, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. pat orsban

    Hopefully, Politico will secretly record Holder. Then he can try to figure out where that leak came from.

    May 30, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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