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.

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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. DustyOnes

    I guess they are tired of being lied to.

    May 30, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. chris mclaughlin

    "A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas."

    Yah Right! Hahaha I defy this Justice Department official to provide one example of a full exchange of ideas that would take place in an off the record meeting with Eric Holder that wouldn't take place in an on the record meeting with Eric Holder. Does this DoJ official seriously believe that Jill Abramson of the NY Times for example, is going to have a full exchange of ideas with Eric Holder when her competition, let's say Roger Ailes of Fox News is sitting beside her? No way. Maybe in an off the record meeting that is one on one between Jill and Eric there might be a full exchange of ideas, but not with a room full of other media bureau chiefs. No way! There is not one example, not ONE that this silly DoJ official would be able to cite. Not one.

    May 30, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. Hah

    Just go and then report exactly what the criminal says.

    May 30, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Pat

    So much for transparency!

    May 30, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. moderateGuy

    Holder is simply the most visibly criminal member of a criminal regime.

    May 30, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. FajitaBob

    You know there's trouble in Paradise when their own propaganda machine turns on them : )

    May 30, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. llinla

    What a pathetic administration!

    May 30, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. FajitaBob

    I have quit blaming libs (can't fault a leapord for having spots), and now blame all the "centrists." You voted Obama in(and therefore, all his cronies) TWICE. This is your mess–nice job.

    May 30, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. maxwell

    are Journalist above the the law?? can they do and say anything ?

    May 30, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. FajitaBob

    I can't believe there are still some people willing to defend these criminals! I guess as long as the freebies keep coming, you can ignore quite a bit. Well, that'll come back to bite you some day...

    May 30, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. ben richards

    Do not be fooled this off the record meeting is Herman Goering’s bringing in the State press core and cow them to make them fall back in line. Watch after this meeting the media will lose all interest in anything critical of this Obamination. Watch…

    May 30, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. a slozomby

    @tak "Let me get this straight. The AP releases a classified report on a thwarted terror plot in Yemen so the DoJ investigates the AP. And the republicans are mad at DoJ?!? Where's the outrage at the national security breach by the AP? I guess GOP hatred of Holder outstrips their alleged love of country."

    there is no law against publishing classified information unless you personally have been granted access to that information. the person who broke the law here is the person who disclosed the information to the ap.

    holder as the cheif law enforcement person in the country should already know that.

    May 30, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. IllKeepMine

    For those that attend, Eric Holder intends to make you complicit for his actions. He will speak of things that can not be reported and you will wish you didn't know. You will have to treat him as a source, making you unable to mention his name else you will break a cardinal rule of the press. Welcome to the betrayal.

    May 30, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. haaggus

    TAK.... The AP just reported a story and got hacked by the government...this doesn't sound fascist to you?

    May 30, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Holder and the Obama Administration are laughing stocks running the Kabuki Theatre!

    May 30, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Textdoc

    Somehow Holder just looks like a snarky no morals lying SOB.

    May 30, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. spynnal

    Next time I see off the record references by these groups, I'll be sure to find another paper. Hypocritical is not a selling point to readers.

    May 30, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. The Joker

    The gov't unfairly targets conservative non-profits and nobody bats an eye. The gov't unfairly targets the media and everybody loses their mind.

    May 30, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. retgrd

    Either the "off the record" info discussion also includes other "big sticks" he has behind his back for the media to back off with previously unk personal background of them, family and if necessary friends or such meeting is designed to negate/thwart any ability to file potential charges/lawsuits with a legal manueuver that would necessarily extend time and discovery factor into/past next election cycle or more probable is a combo.

    May 30, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. Just a thought

    I don't think the media has our best interest at heart as well. I personally would like to see the news reported and NOT edited for enjoyment or editorialized for what ever reason. I'm a big boy with the ability to form an opinion with out being told what my opinion should be by what news organization I watch or read. To Quote the great Foghorn Leghorn, "Son, just gimme the facts, I say Son, Just the FACTS."

    May 30, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. Roger

    I don't trust anyone in this administration.

    May 30, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. sonnie3

    If Holder is still around a month from now, We will know the corruption run straight to the white house. That is where the
    buck used to stop. Now it is different,
    I hear not thing
    I see not thing
    I take the 5th

    May 30, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. abc

    More shady business from the government. The government overuses "national security" to hide things it doesn't want the people to know about. That is why there was a promise of transparency, to gain votes based on the promise of a fair, non-fascist government. So much for that.

    May 30, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. alan

    The ones that do not suck up are the ones that have their phones tapped or tapped again

    May 30, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Tony T

    "A Justice Department official said Wednesday the sessions would be off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas." That statement is what is wrong with obama and his administration as opposed to what he claimed there in no transparency or honesty only cover-up, half truth and backroom deals real Chicago style. Why can't there be a full exchange o ideas in the open? Why"

    May 30, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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