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Thursday, May 30, 2013

New York Times, CNN And Associated Press Heads Refuse To Meet With Eric Holder 'Off-The-Record'

By Susan Duclos

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to meet with Washington bureau chiefs of several major media outlets in an off-the-record powwow on Thursday and Friday, to discuss guidelines into how the Department of Justice handles news leaks and the media organizations that report them.

This follows the major scandal rocking Washington that has seen calls from both sides of the political spectrum calling for Holder's dismissal or resignation after phone records from the Associated Press were seized, then a Fox News reporters tracked with his emails monitored and multiple phone records obtained with warrant to do so, personally signed by Eric Holder.

A number of media organizations are refusing to attend the meeting as long as it is off-the-record.

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.

Unsurprisingly, the liberal leaning Politico has agreed to attend. Fox News has not decided whether to attend Friday's session which they were invited to.

Via TV Newswer: DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse lashed out against that trend on Twitter, saying that refusing to meet with Holder "kind of forfeits your right to gripe," drawing incredulous reactions from reporters; Dylan Byers from Politico just responded, "Jesus, Brad."

Don Surber from Charleston Daily Mail responds to Woodhouse's ridiculous assertion with "@woodhouseb "forfeits your right" -- the motto of this administration."

John Podhoretz from Commentary Magazine tweets his answer to the DNC spokesman"Your literacy incredible. Your lack of verbs wonderful. Your position untenable. Your self-awareness negligible."

BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweets "I suppose they can just find how they feel via subpoenaed email and phone records.... ... .. ."

Reactions to Woodhouse continue to pour in, they can all be seen here.

Journalists meet and have off the record discussions all the time, but in a case dealing with an all out attack on the media and freedom of the press, the last thing any decent journalist wants is have their readers see them allow the Obama administration to muzzle them on that very issue.

[Update] Huffington Post has the tally so far on who is in and who is out.

Not going: New York Times, AP, Huffington Post, McClatchy, CNN, CBS News, Fox News and Reuters.

Going: The Washington Post, Politico, and ABC News.

Undecided: NBC News.