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. disc-0-duc

    Who does this guy think he is, Jodi Arias?!

    May 30, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. G T

    Funny – when the Press decides to actually report the news for a few hours instead of serve as the propaganda distributors for the White House, it is called a "revolt" !

    May 30, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Operations

    And until Holder goes, Obama will get only bad press. The media want their pound of flesh first.

    And the media never did stand up for the rights of the rest of us. So I'm watching this carefully. I don't like an exception of freedom of speech for only licensed or established press.

    May 30, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Dr Matrix

    At least he asked for subpeonas and notified the new organizations. He could have claimed Patriot Act and wiretapped under FISA with no checks and balances. I suspect many of the commentators here were saying if you have nothing to hide why are you against the Patriot Act when it was being pushed through.

    May 30, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Robin Jones

    Another song and dance routine. Clumsy damage control.

    May 30, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Bill

    So what Holder and Obama are saying is that they need to secretly decide how to be an open government?

    May 30, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Demigod Vadik, CA

    This is bad for the press, cause a few months from now no one will remember the "off the record" clause, but they will remember that the press refused to meet with Holder...

    May 30, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. politix101

    The left is totalitarian and blind...

    May 30, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. INTJ

    It is curious to note that, while the attorney general has a "longstanding belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy," he is afraid to talk on the record about his policy towards it.

    May 30, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. mirted

    They seemed to have no problem with off the record meets with Obama, who's hiding even more "stuff" than Holder.

    Watch for this to be a feint for Team Obama and the MSM, perhaps the AP aside, since they took a direct his. Fox? Of course, they (Rosen/Cameron) won't be invited.

    May 30, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. papamartin4554

    I wish FOX were the only ones to show up. Holder would feel awkward.

    May 30, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. RD Scott

    We know why he wants them off the record. He'll tell them play nice with Obama and you'll get juicy stories and scoops.

    Actually be independent and tell the American people the truth? You'll be framed and defamed like James Rosen.

    What a guy!

    May 30, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Oakie Wilson

    The freedom of the press is important, but so is transparency.

    Holder is a public servant, and the media are our information representatives.

    This is not Stalin and Pravda.

    At least, not yet!

    May 30, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. CJB

    Wow guys – ya'll were about to be offered the golden ticket – and now you have integrity in journalism?

    May 30, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. iodiner

    C'mon, media. These are your peeps. Holder just wants to help you do your job campaigning and covering for the obbaamo administration. Where's your spirit of cooperation? They only have 4 yrs left to destroy American freedom and values – and they can't do it without you. Stay the course....stay the course.

    May 30, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. chesterthe

    Typical of a bozO puppet to want to tell the press what the ground rules are for reporting on the ridiculous notion that the DOJ is going to investigate itself. Not even funny enough to make a joke about. Eric should change his name to "with-holder" as in evidence.

    May 30, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Holder is a buffoon at best.

    May 30, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. alan479

    Holder will be giving another news conference with new lies and lame excuses but its off the record. Holder is typical of almost all politicians. Corrupt, incompetent and always ready to explain their position and have 7 ways to Sunday to justify their actions. None of them can stand the light of day. One thing for sure he will never step down no matter how bad it gets. Like most Washington politicians he knows that nothing can be done to him.

    May 30, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. deogi

    I would have agreed to the "off the record" meeting and then printed everything that was said.

    May 30, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Supie

    Why on earth did fox news cancel out of this thing ? They should go – "off the record" means nothing to them...
    embargo's mean nothing to them... the truth isn't even a priority with good old fox....
    what a chance to "blow the lid off" – and THEY blew it...

    May 30, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. jercom

    I think this was a test by the Obama administration to see how much of the MSM still protects it. Looks as though they got quite an eye opener; justly so.

    May 30, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  22. Ron

    What HASN'T Obama lied about?

    May 30, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. Buzz

    NEVER expect a democrat to tell the truth.

    May 30, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. Diplomad

    Please consider this post as OTR: I want Holder gone.

    Please don't reveal to anybody that I am the source of that sentiment.

    May 30, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  25. Libbi

    What happens if they meet with him off the record, but then turn around and report about it?

    May 30, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28