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. Mack Robinson

    Its funny because this administration doesn't want to stop leaks, they just want to control them, and the press as well.

    May 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Ron Jeremy's stunt double

    Thank you press. Time to do your job and quit covering for this administration. You, your families and your friends live in this country too. Your job is to keep government honest.

    May 30, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. Pete

    Whether this meeting with Holder and the AP takes place the media will be the first along with republicans to scream amendment rights discriminating saying their rights as Americans of supposid free speech have been trampled on,wait and see!!It's Murdochs FOX Network that recieved and posted in Britain and found guiilty of easedropping,wiretapping and publizing sensitive,classified government intel that something of that nature here that would be taken as treason but media as well as republicans hide behind the vail of amendment rights that were written for the common man not media giants as FOX who flaunt this amendment right along with their unpatriotic racist,bigotry something you and I know wouldn't get away with in any other country but ours!!FOX you and AP can step up to the plate and take your lumps like a mags news corporation that you are or we'll go back to the McCarthy days when reporters and others were black listed never being able to report news or anything expressive again because you'll be considered communistic and be an enemy of this country,want that because its going that way if republicans keep up..Remember history good or bad does have a habit of repeating itself and you'll see it here if this isn't taken care of in todays hostel enviroment!!

    May 30, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Lifeseeker

    Whatever happened to President Obama's "transparent government?"

    May 30, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. PB

    Uh, oh ... doesn't the media know they are supposed to tow the party line and keep quiet about off the record meetings? Looks like the house of cards may have just felt a shudder.

    May 30, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. Hmm

    Was this just a simple "grievance", as the Politico editor labeled it? Gosh, that sounds so minor. when it is named "gr9ievance". Or is the Politico editor helping the ObamaGate machine massage possibly criminal actions into a softer, gentler cow pie? Umm...umm...umm...DUH...

    May 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. Jim Sweet

    The pressies should show up with no comment, then treat it as an open meeting and fully report on all that's said by the AG.

    If he can sneak behind their backs, judge shop, and then lie about it, I'd say all rules of the game are fair to break on the other side too.

    May 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. daveugber

    Just resign and then get yourself lawyer'd-up...you're in for a much-deserved ride down corruption lane!

    May 30, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. deltafour1212

    Some of the media won't be attending?!
    The media must be to busy to vist with Holder because their mouths are full of Obama's offspring.
    They are going to be to busy going in the restroom to spit and rinse

    May 30, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. truth

    The media is given too much power. They can report bogus news, criticize, place blame and sometime blatantly lie. When will this stop? Anderson Cooper, Jessica Yellen, Wolf, and others are peace breakers. These closet Republicans need not be reporters of the news. If they want to be politician let them go through the rigorous trials that politicians must go through. Enough, when will CNN get back to reporting the news and not their opinions?

    May 30, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Willy Brown

    Can't you smell that smell?

    May 30, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. mike

    nothing is off the record i always like how politicians love to use that phrase

    May 30, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. saintholiday

    It's not what they say that matters; it's what they do. This administration lies as a matter of policy.

    May 30, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  14. stonehillady

    Since TV was first on the scene over 60 years now, it was USED by government to spew dis-information and cover-up mis-deeds of the government. The Press, has NOT been fair or balance or honest, they have acted on behalf of who they politically supported. This is why we neither live in what we believed was Free Society and have voted for liars, cheats and psychopaths like the likes of what we have today. We have been mis-lead into wars, and allowed Congress to make laws against our interest because we where ill informed from the media. Not only applies to the boob-tube but, the printed Media as well. The Internet on the other hand has allowed us to seek out opposing views, and information from around the world the differ from the dis-information campaign that the CIA Chief William Casey talked about back in 1981, "We will know our dis-information campaign is successful, when everything the public knows are all lies." This my fellow Americans has been the marriage of the Government and it's highly paid Media Outlets have been snowballing on to us for a very long time and is "The dumbing down" Agenda by the Political Elites to get over us and lead us against our own interests and to divide us with "Out of Chaos comes Order" a Satanical Occult Cabal to keep them in Power and us as the dumb downed tax payer in constant debt to them.

    May 30, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. CT Hunnefield

    Sorry, but our elected government should NOT be having closed communications with members of our free press. If this was GW Bush, you liberals out there would be calling for his head!

    May 30, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. STV

    An extremely clear problem and everyone takes a stand. When was the last time they all agreed?

    May 30, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  17. Voter with a Long Memory

    Gee, the LSM is refusing to come to the "Injustice Department" to get their instructions and talking points. MY, MY what will the Obama Regime do NOW!

    May 30, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Ed

    Whatever happened to the "most transparent" administration ever? What's with the closed door, off the record meeting? If the main stream media hopes to maintain a shred of perceived objectivity, they need to stick to there guns here. Going into an off the record, then coming out as if nothing happened will only be perceived as complicity.

    May 30, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. wadecsmith

    shades of John N. Mitchell, circa 1974.

    May 30, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Lew

    You have got to be kidding. The person being investigated is wanting to have an OTR meeting with the press to discuss how to investigate and report govt leakers.

    May 30, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. aplacky

    Any reporter who attends this meeting is a mad man. Obviously the meeting will be subject to penalties if anything discussed is put on the record. Which the administration will claim is anything that is ever disclosed by the press in the future.

    May 30, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. Nyguy

    Oh now they don't want to have secret press rehearsals? Was t there some special closed door meeting to review Benghazi with Obama just abou two weeks ago lol

    May 30, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. Dixie Lane

    Why would he do that? ...... It's in your face arrogance and tyranny .... take it or shut up !! They have been told by 3 judges now to remove the 3 Labor Board appointees who were appointed during a Senate recess, and just ignore the judges and the law....of course, that's not even the tip of the iceberg.

    May 30, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  24. Brian

    What happened to "the most transparent administration ever"?

    May 30, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. abmri60

    Wait a minute....So Holder is going to investigate himself and those in DOJ that consulted him about the course of action they planned and he himself approved of ?
    Seriously ?????

    May 30, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
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