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. Ezra

    off The Record? They are turning the most basic concepts of America into a sick , distorted joke.

    May 30, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  2. Bob

    Even when it's in their own interest, this administration can't be open

    May 30, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. aolsux

    should we expect more from THE MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION ever....?

    May 30, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  4. Nolan Whelan

    The worm has turned for Holder/Obama and assorted co-conspirators in their relationship with the mainstream media. Even liberals get tired of being lied to by their own apparently. About time.

    May 30, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. robster

    Holder is trying to cull friendly press.

    May 30, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. Lester

    The most open and transparent administration ever. Even those that favor a liberal philosophy have to see the danger in Holder using the power of his office and the IRS to squash opinions they do not agree with.

    May 30, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  7. sarah

    Ryan Grimm of Huffington says, "We have a responsibility not to betray......"
    The press/media has been "betraying" its responsibilities for several long years now.
    The American public is tired...and sick.... of the lackeys that the Left has created from a once proud institution.

    May 30, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  8. hmichaelh

    I must say I am impressed that the main stream media is actually operating as a free and independent press should operate. Perhaps there is hope we may return to a media that reports without a bias based on political commitment of the individual reports and management.....with the exception of Politico, of course. It would be ironic if FoxNews was the only media organization to show up for this "Off the Record" briefing....with the exception of Politico, of course. And since FoxNews' rights as a news organization have been violated, maybe they would ignore the "Off the Record" nonsense, and publish the meeting, word for word. Since DOJ's rules exempt them from following the rules, Fox can just say they exempt themselves from remaining "Off the Record." The truth be told, what possibly can Holder say at the meeting he doesn't want published? WAIT A MINUTE!!!! Almost everything he says he doesn't want published, since even casual scrutiny of his statements will reveal what a liar he is. But I guess it won't be perjury to say whatever he wants at the meeting. That he reserves for the many times he lies to Congress.

    And if only Politico shows up for the meeting, will that not be like Holder having a meeting with Holder?

    May 30, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  9. coast2co

    Now you media boys and girls, listen up. I'm going to spy on you and even audit you if I feel your not in agreement with our administration. Now I want to privately tell you how this investigation is going to unfold. Remember I'm investigating myself HA HA, HA.

    The Press used to be investigative journalism and scandal breaking. Men and women that were actually private investigators and were revered as such. But now they are just mouth pieces and political stamps for and ideal or agenda. They are nothing more than a propaganda machine for the masses. We are the Banana Republic of the USA. The Political machine is an octopus that is all powerful and the president is a pawn. Its bigger than one man and one party. Uber Rich types behind the scenes call the shots. The Murdock's and the Soros and even bigger than them are the boys in the back rooms. Playing everyone for suckers. Even the media are sucks but there to intellectually stupid to realize it.

    May 30, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  10. Cindy

    "The most transparent administration in history"

    May 30, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  11. Bill Jiden

    "Department of Injustice" Holder needs to do prison time.

    May 30, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  12. steelyal

    The corrupt Obama Admin is finally getting its due.

    May 30, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  13. L-Optimiste

    What an irony. Of all the government departments to hold an "Off-the-record" meeting, it is the Justice Department that is supposed to uphold the law of the land, that consistently has demonstrated disregard and lawlessness. It is like the movie where the "Don"calls a meeting to clear things. Only clandestine operations should have OTR meetings, not the Justice Department.

    May 30, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  14. DemsRdim

    What's the matter no one to support this crook? Where's all the oblamer therefor Holder sycophants ready to defend this doofus? hmmmm???

    May 30, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  15. Some Guy

    I'm looking forward to the first day of the next Republican Administration, where we can count on the press to suddenly remember it isn't a government agency.

    Oddly, when no one in the press is willing to call out a Democratic Administration for corruption and anti-democratic activity, the Administration winds up being corrupt and anti-democratic. Go figure.

    May 30, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  16. James McDonald

    And this administration was supposed to be the most transparent. Why don't they what the public to know?

    May 30, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  17. Ricardo Phynque

    Holder must think he is like Obama, who thinks he can convince anyone of anything simply by talking to them!!!!

    May 30, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  18. jamol

    Is this Obama's example of "The most transparent administration ever."

    May 30, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  19. ascpgh

    Not even the lapdogs are interested in the hand-feeding anymore. Defections from this administration will soon come; who wants to stake their future on an association with liars, cheaters, criminals and otherwise general losers? The impressiveness of being staff to the office, cabinet or administration of THIS president is losing luster faster than a Times Square "Rolex".

    May 30, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  20. Soap Box One

    Holder doesn't want an actual press conference. He wants a strategy meeting with Democrat operatives.

    May 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  21. Ernest Lane

    What the press should do is report on it anyway. The entire concept of "off the record" is offensive. With camera phones everywhere, social media, and all that, everyone operates under the assumption that everything is recorded, that nothing done "in public" is private. Politicians should be made to live with that, as well.

    May 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  22. Brandon

    Am I the only one who finds the media's feigned anger to be funny? Obama and Holder have been pulling this kind of stuff for five years now, yet the media is just now righteously indignant. Too little, too late to save the reputation of the media. Where was this anger when Holder refused to charge the New Black Panthers with voter intimidation when they were on video threatening voters at the doors to the poll?

    May 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  23. jksu2

    Just another fine example of openness and transparency.

    May 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  24. Jay

    Oh now they want to be journalists.

    May 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  25. Carole

    hahahahaha. FINALLY, the propaganda media takes a small stand, after standing on the White House steps for over a decade and printing whatever Carney, Jarrett and company spew forth.

    May 30, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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