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. Fair is Fair

    How anyone can defend the actions of this man is beyond me.

    May 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Arch Stanton

    "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 [and a closet member of the Obama perma-campaign], I routinely have off-the-record conversations with [capos from out regime]..."

    May 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. AlphaMaryYankee

    Holder trying to do damage control for this administration's crimes.
    Kudos to the Media for not buckling under to the Socialist/Communist agenda.
    Make it public. Thank you, Media!!!!

    May 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. zoeusa

    @John Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Politico...Regarding your statement, "I feel anyone-whether an official or ordinary reader-should be able to have an unguarded conversation with someone in the position of accountability for a news organization when there is good reason"....HOW DO YOU KNOW THERE IS GOOD REASON? Was a list of "good reason" topics passed around? At any rate, if it is based on good reason then it should be "on the record"...In regards to having a conversation with a person of accountability, right there is reason not to attend.

    May 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. mike

    If Holder thinks a meeting on the record would jeapordize national security then he just shouldn't hold the meeting.

    May 30, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. TexasRick

    Well done Politico. Now, rollover, sit, shake hands, play dead, beg......that's a good little lap dog.

    May 30, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. jadams76

    As the mouthpiece of this Administration we at Politico feel it is our duty to help out AG Holder any way we can. We are pleased to do OTR interviews any time and any place to help get his and Obama's message out. Actual news organizations that try to wear a fig leaf of impartiaity obviously feel differently and we get that. Fortunately we are not burdened with that responsibility.

    May 30, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Raul

    The media has been in bed with this administration so long that what difference does this make?

    The media lost its credibility long ago, this will not get it back.

    May 30, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Joop deBruin

    Holder wants to deliver Barack Milhouse Obama's "talking points" without worrying about gaps in the tapes.

    Stay tuned for Impeachment proceedings and a resignation before the end of summer.

    May 30, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. aubreyfarmer

    If I were a reporter on the White House hit list I would be very careful about any travel plans. Planes mysteriously falling out of the sky solve a lot of "leaks". "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. Well Grim you have already violated the public trust on numerous occasions so why stop now? This is just spin so those media outlets that have been carrying water for the White House will appear to be on the up and up. MSM is full of Commies and Commie sympathizers so don't expect them to turn on the master manipulator Obama anytime soon. Pure theater to entertain the masses while our government continues to lead us down the road to certain destruction. I always wonder what is going on behind the scences when the public is bombarded with stories of the media being hacked. You can bet something much larger is in the works and this is all about distracting us while the real crimes go unnoticed.

    May 30, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. skylarkva

    The only reason for "off the record" meetings is to spin and lie under cover of secrecy and Politico is aiding and abetting the Obama administration by meeting with Holder under those conditions. They will come away from this meeting of shape-shifters and secrets permanently cloaked in the stench of Obama's mendacity.

    May 30, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. mitch

    .....'cause Politico is a leftist hack organization.....

    May 30, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. johnt

    Why not off the record? Does the Mafia go on the record, drug dealers, pedophiles, scummers in general? Obama and Holder fit right in.

    May 30, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Johnp40

    Liar, liar, pants on fire. Holder has lied so much and so often he doesn't even know if he's lying or not.

    May 30, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Dez

    What? Now the Corporate Media pretends to grow a set? About 20 years too late guys, not buying a word of it.

    May 30, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Goblin King

    Time to start removing this corrupt administration from office. Holder should be the first to go.

    May 30, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Rick

    Once there was a scorpion who needed to cross a stream. The scorpion approached a frog and asked the frog to carry him on his back across the stream. "But you will sting me" said the frog. "Oh, no," said the scorpion, "if I sting you, I will drown". "Alright then", and the frog allowed the scorpion to climb on his back as he then crossed the stream. When the frog reached the other side, theh scorpion sung the frog. "Why did you sting me?" said the frog as he was dying. "I'm a scorpion" answered the scorpion.

    May 30, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. jcx2

    Isn't there something called the Sunshine Law that makes off the record press conferences illegal? Off the record is just a sneaky way to push your agenda. The Press laps it up when Obama pulls one...makes them feel like they belong to a High School Clique with the cool crowd. Guess Holder isn't as cool. I can't help but wonder how long this new Press "integrity" will last.

    May 30, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. sc

    Who cares, media, mostly faux news pausse news anyway.

    May 30, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. Don

    Any propaganda outlet that show up for the "instructions" from Holder and Jarrett should be sued by the American people for dereliction of duty.

    May 30, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. SC

    Did Fox decline as well? Oh, wait. Not invited.

    May 30, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. erniedavidson

    'Guidelines' for handling the investigation? How does Holder get to set the guidelines when he's the one on the hot seat?!?!

    May 30, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  23. Ben Gauzzi

    The Bible states clearly, "Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no, anything apart from this is of the Devil".


    May 30, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. bob smith

    so the only reason that lefties CNN and others don't like the meeting is because one of their own, ie AP, was targeted by Oblamie and Holder and NOW they may want to ask REAL questions instead of their usual softballs with zero followup..

    leftie media finally found a pair of cajones, but I don't expect it will last.

    May 30, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. SirGareth

    Lets examine all of these "secrets" a little more closely. In a constitutional republic who has the authority to classify, de-classify and prosecute violations of secrets?

    Clearly there are official secrets about the deaths of JFK and Ted Kennedy's girl friends. They are official secrets to this day – they are guarded political secrets, nothing else.

    Our Navy Seals gain a treasure trove of intelligence from Osama's hideout and Obama is blabbing all about it the next day despite being begged by the CIA to hold tight so they can take action on it. If he is caught giving a BJ to his IRS commish that is clearly a "national security issue" and must be classified but actionable intelligence that has some political advantage for this POS preezy? Well that's OK for him to divulge OK but WH BJs from the IRS Commish would clearly be treasonous if revealed.

    My civics teacher never explained how this all made us the land of the free

    May 30, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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