Press revolt: NY Times, AP decline Holder’s off-the-record briefing

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Under intense scrutiny over his Justice Department’s targeting of journalists, Attorney General Eric Holder extended an offer to have an “off-the-record” meeting with the media to discuss the monitoring of reporters.

Following in the footsteps of his boss, President Barack Obama, we could call it Holder’s own little “beer summit,” although some major players are refusing to belly up to the bar.

New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has announced that her paper will not attend the off-the-record session, due to the fact it is “off the record,” as reported by Politico. You can’t get much by her.

“We will not be attending the session at DOJ. It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off the record meeting with the attorney general. Our Washington bureau is aggressively covering the department’s handling of leak investigations at this time,” Abramson said in a statement.

The Associated Press, the primary target of the DOJ, has also said they will not be participating in the briefing.

“We believe the meeting should be on the record and we have said that to the Attorney General’s office. If it is on the record, AP Exe. Editor Kathleen Carroll will attend. 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,” AP spokesperson Erin Madigan said in a statement sent to Politico.

In reality, this is more of the same from the Obama administration when it comes to controlling the message, just as we saw last week when select journalists where quietly invited into the West Wing.

The problem for Holder is, now that it’s the target, the media has suddenly found principle.

While the actions of Holder and the DOJ are highly concerning, there is a bit of poetic justice at play when those who’ve fed the crocodile for so long, believing they’ll never be eaten, find themselves on the menu.

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Tom Tillison


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