Media Organizations Turning Down Holder’s Request For Off The Record Meeting

Caught up in controversy over subpoenas directed at the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, Attorney General Eric Holder proposed earlier this week holding off the record meetings with all of the major news organizations. For the most part, media organizations are turning down that request:

Several news organizations have announced they will not attend this week’s off the record meetings with Attorney General Eric Holder unless the sit-downs are conducted on the record.

CNN, Fox News, CBS News and McClatchy on Thursday joined The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Huffington Post in refusing to go to one of the Department of Justice’s off the record sessions about the department’s handling of investigations into journalists. POLITICO, The Washington Post and ABC News, meanwhile, have announced that they will attend the off the record meetings, which are being held to discuss changes to the Justice Department’s guidelines for subpoenas of reporters.

An ABC News spokesman on Thursday told POLITICO the network “will attend the meeting and press for that conversation to be put on the record.”

CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair said CBS News will not attend, but would consider an on the record conversation.

“CBS News does not plan to participate in the off-the-record meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder,” McNair said in a statement to POLITICO. “We would be willing to consider an on-the-record discussion.”

Fox News said it was invited to attend Friday’s session, but announced on Thursday the network will not attend if it remains off the record. NBC News’ Luke Russert noted Thursday on MSNBC that NBC News has been invited, but did not address whether the organization would attend a meeting. An NBC spokesperson says the network is still discussing whether or not to attend.

The meetings come in the wake of the news the department seized the phone records of several AP reporters and also targeted Fox News’ James Rosen in a separate investigation, and will be part of President Barack Obama’s announced review of the department’s existing guidelines governing investigations involving reporters.

If nothing else, this demonstrates quite starkly the bad blood that has been created between media organizations and the Justice Department in the wake of the AP and Rosen revelations. As I noted when the AP story first broke,  this is an issue — I can’t really say it’s appropriate to call it a “scandal — that is going to have legs primarily because it hits the media right at home. It will be in the news as long as they want to talk about it, and they don’t appear to be ending their interest in the topic any time soon.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kate says:

    So, what in your mind would qualify as a “scandal” if this doesn’t?

  2. legion says:

    Now if only they’d develop the guts to actually burn sources that regularly lie to them, we might someday have a respectable press again.

  3. Kate,

    The term “scandal” implies illegal activity. There was, in all likelihood, nothing illegal about the subpoenas.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are serious issues raised by these leak investigations, I made that point here, I’m just not sure “scandal” is the right word to describe it.

  4. Caj says:

    If some don’t want to meet with Eric Holder they better shut their whining traps! Keep moaning about how badly they are being treated then refuse to meet with the AG whether it’s off the record or not! Some just don’t want to let a good headline go!!!

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    It’s only a scandal if they misrepresented their reasons for seeking the subpoenas.

  6. Tyrell says:

    What happened to all that transparency that was promised? What about it, Mr. President?

  7. They should announce they are going to attend the meeting and report on whatever Holder says there anyways, and then leave it up to him to kick them out.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Kate: Actually, thank you Doug, for calling this an issue, not a scandal.

    Over Memorial Day weekend I happened to catch part of “Command Decision” on TCM. Not a movie I like much. The drama is in the fight between the hard headed realist bomber commanders and everyone else. Said HHR bomber commanders wanting to continue sacrificing their crews in order to bomb the German jet fighter factory. With hindsight, we know that bombing factories wasn’t really very effective. Knowing that Clark Gable’s fictional crews were dying without accomplishing much makes it hard to root for him. It’s actually a pretty good metaphor for European austerity. If your ends justify your means, and you don’t accomplish your ends…

    In the movie there is a crusty old war correspondent (Charles Bickford). He’s falling over backwards to fudge his stories to support the generals. WWII era press did that. It’s good that we now expect the press to be more honest. But has the pendulum swung so far that knowingly blowing intelligence operations is acceptable? Is it unrealistic to expect some voluntary restraint? And if that’s not forthcoming, what are we supposed to do?

  9. Tyrell says:

    The restraint, professionalism, and impartiality are in an age long gone. Now it is sensationalism, cheap amateurish tricks (” breaking news!”), and biased propaganda.

  10. Matt Bernius says:

    @Tyrell:

    The restraint, professionalism, and impartiality are in an age long gone. Now it is sensationalism, cheap amateurish tricks (” breaking news!”), and biased propaganda.

    This is a view of the media that has absolutely no grounding in history of any sort.

    The so called “guilded age” of professional journalism (such that it was) is a BLIP in the history of journalism in all it’s sensational and “biased” glory. What people keep back-projecting as the way it always was was a temporary abhoration created by a brief moment of media consolidation and was largely restricted to broadcast news and the major city’s major newspapers. At best… AT BEST… it lasted for about 30 years. And that’s a generous estimate.

    They way “news” is practiced now is largely the way it was practiced a century ago and perhaps even a century before that.

  11. anjin-san says:

    I drew a line
    I drew a line for you
    Oh what a thing to do
    And it was all yellow…

  12. legion says:

    @Tyrell:

    What happened to all that transparency that was promised? What about it, Mr. President?

    Yeah! It’s all the administration’s fault for not being open about what it’s doing!
    @Tyrell:

    The restraint, professionalism, and impartiality are in an age long gone. Now it is sensationalism, cheap amateurish tricks (” breaking news!”), and biased propaganda.

    Oh, hey – now it’s the press’ fault for being scummy! They totally deserve to be treated like that!

    That’s a pretty impressive double-back-flip there, Tyrell…

  13. legion says:

    @Matt Bernius: Seriously. Just look up the phrase “Remember the Maine!” That whole setup could’ve happened ten years ago rather than a century…

  14. Dazedandconfused says:

    Holder has always been just a tad too politically naive. A High Poo-Bah doesn’t do “off the record” cozy-ups with press. For that you send your bag-boys, the Scooter Libby’s and such. They can’t just “leak”, they can also explain things “off the record”. They can even dangle a hint of a leak to get the sit down.

    Holder was also naive (IMO) when he allowed Rand Paul to trap him with the Droning Americans BS. The correct answer was always a simple “NO”, not matter how a law prof might grade it.

  15. bill says:

    @Tyrell: it got “opaque” rather quickly i’d say. it was a great campaign promise, but like most of them they were just lip service to gullible voters.

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Dazedandconfused: Holder has always been just a tad too politically naive.

    Excuse me? Holder, naive?

    Familiarize yourself with his record.
    12 years in the Justice Department, from 1976 to 1988, where he was part of Abscam and helped put a Congressman in jail. 5 years as a judge in DC. 4 years as a US Attorney, where he helped put Dan Rostenkowski in jail. Deputy AG under Janet Reno, where he helped Marc Rich buy his pardon and helped appoint Ken Starr as special prosecutor. Eight years at Covington & Burling, a very powerful international law firm that also does a LOT of high-powered lobbying.

    I’ve heard Holder called a lot of things, but “politically naive?” You really need to put down the crack pipe.

  17. fred says:

    Of course they are, primarily because he is black. Their profession is supposed to be about communication so what have they got to lose. They know that their profession today is not about information sharing to the public but mostly about “get ya writings” to get headlines and improve ratings and profits, so they don’t want to hear some home truths about their profession from AG Holder. Those who refuse to meet with AG Holder should be ashamed of themselves.

  18. fred says:

    The journalistic profession is a shambles especially in this new age of mass communication. Anything goes as news today and that is now so sad for our country. AG Holder was at least trying to make things better.

  19. Jenos Idanian says:

    @fred: Of course they are, primarily because he is black.

    Yes, he’s black. But he’s also a lying scummy corrupt weasel, and that’s actually relevant.