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.