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

    Holder has a history of being disingenuous on a number of issues. Be it Fast & Furious, trying to invalidate efforts to curb voter fraud or the illegal targeting of certain media outlets, Holder repeatedly has shown a propensity to obfuscate from the truth. This is not an endearing quality for anyone who holds the position of this country's "top cop." In the context of the other ongoing scandals embroiling Washington D.C., these are just additional facets of a culture of corruption that has festered within the Obama administration. The fact that the "mainstream" media is just now coming to this realization underscores the extent to which they have allowed themselves to be played.

    May 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. bassman

    I take my hat off to CNN.

    May 30, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. David Vernon

    It's Amateur Hour at Justice and the White House. CNN is still de facto protecting the White House by not, at first, reporting this story, and then, putting this front page story in under Politics. Afraid that they too might be accused of not being a legitimate news organization.

    May 30, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. UnderGodnotgovt

    Not surprised Politico will take the meeting.

    May 30, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Solomon Walker

    Now comes the blame game as some of us continue to expose who did the dirty work of omitting these stories and shielded public officials from being prosecuted for the very serious crimes of inhumanity that they caused in the United States.

    You're not off the hook, Associated Press.

    You've had plenty of evidence where you should have informed federal authorities as a matter of civic duty to report the evidence you accumulated because you knew harm was imminent.

    Freedom of the press does not shirk responsibility as a United States citizen. You may not ignore the authority of the other amendments in your claim to uphold the unlimited freedom you perceive wrongfully that you have.

    There a duty exists to report to law enforcement when public officials act in a criminal capacity – not only after the conviction.

    I'm sorry, but I learned the law from a very, very good law school and because I have a very smart mind.

    I wouldn't steer you wrong – and even as a news reporter myself – I always reported to the federal government when something unlawful occurred.

    Have a nice day.

    May 30, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. sly

    I am proud of Mr. Holder for trying to protect National Security againest terrorist attacks.

    The Attorney General is in charge of protecting our liberties, and he is doing his job.

    Shame on the media.

    May 30, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. Mike

    Hrmm...can't be threatened if its an On-The-Record meeting. Good for the the media (which I find extremely hard to say).

    May 30, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. The REAL Truth...

    @Anotha Damn Texan – It's only a show to gain public trust while they meet behind closed doors in secret meetings.
    LOL – kinda like Gubner Perry calling a special session on redestricting in TX, so his AG can have backing for his lawsuit in Fed courts. Or Dewhurst wanting to pass legislation that the Dems blocked (college campus carry, more anti-abortion laws, etc) during regular session as the vote process differs during special sessions. If the Dems at the Fed level had tried something like that, there would be serious wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Obstructionist camp. Yet it's fine for Texans?
    Oh, BTW, when you see the Gubner, ask him how the TX state Gubmint has managed to rack up close to $300 BILLION in debt during his tenure, in a state that requires a balanced budget.

    May 30, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. DH

    Notice how the congress people who "really saw" the CIA Benghazi files are no longer saying stupid stuff cause there was secret stuff going on that we were NOT SUPPOSE TO KNOW! The Repubs need to get about the business of jobs etc.
    there is no issue with Eric Holder either just like Benghazi, which they will find out in the meetings Holder is having this week, unfortunately our enemies will also probably learn more info then the USA wants them to learn.
    Same with the IRS story..... The Repubs reduce the public sector work force then send over 75,000 applications for tax evading groups. Questions should have been asked as none of them Repubs and dems should not be tax exempt......again nothing. Abide by the law as written

    May 30, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. glorydays

    and why should they trust him now?

    May 30, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. silvertop

    The leaks, the surveillance, the record grabbing, are legal and constitutional (privacy rights) issues. Holder and the administration should first consult legal, national security, and communications experts for clarification and guidelines if he is not well versed in these matters (imagine the highest law enforcement official of the land!). Why does he need exchanges of ideas from the press? Sounds like a ploy. Hats off to news organizations that do not fall for that.

    May 30, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Joe

    Holder wants the meeting off the record so he can relate to them all stuff he got off their personal emails and phone wiretaps. "Hey guys back off or I will tell your spouses what you have been up to"

    May 30, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. nuclear mike

    How does it feel Obama lovers of the media to be betrayed totally by your President & his AG??? Does this mean there is a divorce in the making as reality hurts when his executive power is turned loose on the Media?

    May 30, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. JoeHoliday

    When asked about the closed door meeting Earache Holder said " The president...........err, I mean I asked for the heads of the news networks to confab so I can threaten.........err, ask them to be fair and remember I am a lack man and incapable of wrongdoing even though black males represent only 8% of the US population but more than 60% of the crime. . And remember we have drones…........err, instituted new policies that make it appear we will behave. I only ask the pandering media to not jump ship before we empty theockets of all the rich in this country. Thank you and may Allah, err.........God bless America.?

    May 30, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. John

    What was that Obama said? Oh yeah, his administration would be the most transparent? LOL

    May 30, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Yakobi

    The hypocritical left-wing controlled mainstream media doesn't hold this administration accountable for Fast & Furious, Benghazi, or other scandals, but when the AG starts targeting the AP, suddenly they start asking real questions.

    May 30, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Dude is going down. No doubt about it.

    May 30, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Fernando (Seattle)

    One more example of the transparency of this administration.

    May 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Howard

    Eric Holder is a criminal and should be thrown under the jail. The constant violation of the constitution can not be tolerated. He is not trust worthy and no off-the-record meeting s should be allowed!

    May 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Bull Durham

    Of course it's inappropriate for the AG to meet off the record with the press to discuss ways to handle press leaks. The suggestion did come from the AG's office, after all. One wouldn't expect Eric Holder to burden himself with the need for appropriateness, would one?

    May 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. pokey5735

    Of course, Political will go. No surprise there.

    May 30, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Edward Boothe

    The "Justice" department has shut down freedom of the press. The IRS is auditing anyone who's political or religious beliefs the Obamanations do not agree with. bankrupting many of them. The IRS is threatening to fire any employee who talks to the press. The White Hose is lying about letting four patriots die without turning a hand to help them. As Dennis Miller said last night on the OReilly show, "it is over, the United States is gone". The Communists have succeeded in destroying the greatest democracy in the history of the world.

    May 30, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. favre04

    Fox declined to attend but CNN didn't report it. Surprise.

    May 30, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. rob

    LMAO !!!!!! Now even the Liberal media recognizes how this kind of "Off the record" "Closed door" meeting would make them look. This administration has been the benefificiary of extreemly soft media coverage of their actions that I can remember in my lifetime...53 years. The media is now being embarrased into doing its job; especially now that their own have been targeted by this DOJ. Holder will resign shortly and may be prosecuted for fals testimony. Many heads will roll in the IRS, and some may face charges. The Bengazi tragady will result in some major embarrasment for HRC but being a Clinton she will squirm her way out of any long term damage but she will not run for president in 2016.

    The real test will be the mid terms in 2014. These elections may give us a complete wash out of the dems in the senate and usher in some sanity in Govt.

    May 30, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I see CNN has thrown a bone to the rabid haters of this administration, allowing the "Usual Suspects" to rant and rave unchecked for 21 pages and counting.....

    May 30, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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