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. Jean

    Anybody know if Fox was invited to the meeting?

    May 30, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. lokinen

    The only reason this guy is still around is that he knows where the bodies are buried. He is an embarrassment to the position.

    May 30, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Fred Garvin

    Is it me ...or does he look like an original cast memeber of In Living Color..."Homey don't play that".

    May 30, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Brad in Alabama

    This is what America voted for. This is what the people want. They want to be controlled, told what to eat, told what to buy, told how to live.

    May 30, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. bob smith

    so it only took FIVE YEARS for CNN and the rest of the lefty press to grow a pair.

    May 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Shawn T.

    Are people FINALLY waking up?

    May 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. driveby_poster

    Well, at least Politico is still in the WH stable.

    May 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. PeterD

    The same media played a Major Biased Role in Electing and Re-electing President Obama.

    May 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. kevin

    Off the record meeting? IRS officials pleading the 5th? Benghazi cover up? So much for the "most transparent" administration ever. In the words of The Talking Heads song...." same as it ever was...same as it ever was".

    May 30, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. A Hunter

    It is remarkable to see the normally supplicant media developing a little spine. For the most part they have been stenographers transcribing administration talking points, spinning administration lines, and accepting dismissive and demeaning treatment as their due. It is probably too much to hope for to see them wake up and understand what is actually going on, but it would be good for the nation if they do.

    May 30, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. cletus clampet

    yes get all your boot lickers in for a behind the closed doors meeting to get your lies straight, fools!! this will in no way stop or delay the upcoming revolt, Your fates are sealed,

    May 30, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. rufusvondufus

    Pretty funny stuff here, CNN, considering how you have been an Obama/Holder cheerleader for the past six years. What has made you change after all of this time? Is it something or everything Obama/Holder have done to take away our rights as U.S. citizens?

    May 30, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. Edsel

    The media has just informed Eric Holder that he is toast.

    May 30, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Way to go CNN... Keep it up, your ratings will continue to increase!

    May 30, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Moderately Amused

    Nonsensical Lib defense of this moron in 3...2..1...

    May 30, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. schm0e

    hunh wow they all got religion.

    May 30, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Jean Joseph

    Keep it up CNN, your ratings will continue to increase!

    May 30, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. rufusvondufus

    Pretty funny stuff there, CNN, seeing as you have been an Obama/Holder cheerleader for the past six years. What is it that has made you change your mind? Is it all of the things Obama/Holder have done which were/are illegal and the way they simply declare that our laws are no longer relevant–except for the ones they like? You are a traitor to the citizens of the United States and I hope you go belly up asap!

    May 30, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. What Burns My Bacon

    As a journalist myself, I do feel that these meetings should be open and on the record. Having it off the record just creates another layer of mistrust that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration do not need right now.

    May 30, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. BX

    What legitimate press organization would allow themselves to be showcased in this ridiculous dog and pony show?

    May 30, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Eli Gregory

    Of course, Politico will be there. They gotta get their marching orders.

    May 30, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. jschmidt

    The press is actually doing their job- amazing.

    May 30, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Lindsay Wagner

    This sounds like a Communist government. Now the press is going to be told how to inquire and report information which could compromise the corrupt establishment? Any news entity willing to participate is an accomplice to the corruption.

    May 30, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. jeelbear

    Good decision by CNN. I was surprised that you guys agreed to the off the record meeting with the Pres earlier. In all of my years of watching the news I've never seen such a disinterest in asking questions as has been the case for the past five years. One scandal is easy to cover up but three is impossible. Now it's time for the journalists to ask questions and report.

    May 30, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  25. carlb

    well we all know politico are lap dogs for obama. lets just hope they are the only one to show up. it would be fitting. holder is a rudder less ship. when i read that he had to go to 3 judges to get these warrants it proved one thing he was shopping around for some one who had no clue what the constitution means. i also believe holder has no clue either. don't know what kind of hold he has over obama probably fast and furious bit he needs to go. if this was bush the media would have already had him out of his seat! hammering nightly for him to go. right now after a body count of almost 300 innocent and 5 americans killed the media is just going ho-hum . how many more must die for their incompetence media!

    May 30, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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