Media Refuses To Attend Holder Confab Over Monitoring Of Reporters

holderericI have previously expressed my view of the meeting ordered by President Barack Obama of Attorney General Eric Holder with representatives of the media. This feeble response was taken in lieu of the more obvious step of firing Holder for his attack on the free press. The proposed meeting was, in my view, an insulting gesture of effectively having Holder investigate Holder. It was made even more transparent by the decision of the Justice Department that the meeting had to be off-the-record. That was too much for two principled media organizations New York Times, CNN, and Associated Press which have refused (correctly) to attend. Sending Holder to such a confab is like Nixon sending G. Gordon Liddy to lead a therapy session of privacy victims. The sole purpose appears to give Obama cover and the appearance of action. However, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said that NYT reporters cannot agree to the “off the record” condition. The Associated Press followed suit in refusing to attend. Hopefully others will follow today. The meeting is purportedly designed to explain the Administration’s policy on such seizures of media records and possibly develop new reforms in the future. However, the Administration insists that it was right to target journalists and it is clear that Holder is going to suggest simply new notification or procedural protections rather than establishing a rule barring such seizures in the future. The government has always pursued leakers and whistleblowers within governmental and public channels. However, targeting the reporters crossing the Rubicon in seizing confidential information. While we can continue to debate the constitutionality of such searches (I tend to read the first amendment broadly in protection of the free press), it clearly contravenes longing principles respected by past administrations. Such investigations create a chilling effect on both journalists and sources alike. What is striking is the defense of the White House, which shows a lack of aprpeciation of the most values governing a free press. The White House insists that, since the reporters were not going to be prosecuted, there is no threat to the free press. Such arguments are facially absurd. First, Rosen was officially called a potential criminal co-conspirator in the investigation. Second, the administration was seeking to strip away confidentiality guarantees that reporters need to get information from sources. The distinction being used by the administration suggests that it is either completely clueless about the values of a free press or, more likely, completely disengenous in dealing with this scandal. In my view, attendance at this meeting gives the appearance of legitimacy to this effort and uses media as props in an effort of the Administration to spin the scandal. This rather pathetic meeting with Holder is obviously meant to give cover for the President who continues to express surprise over criticism despite years of criticism over the targeting of both whistleblowers and journalists by his Administration. What do you think? Source: Politico

58 thoughts on “Media Refuses To Attend Holder Confab Over Monitoring Of Reporters”

  1. Obama and Holder, Nixon and Mitchell, Bush and Gonzales ….. I wonder are we kidding ourselves? We now have a Congress and Administrations that care little about our personal rights, and we are complaining about journalist rights who are completely aligned to Corporate interests. We are watching the decay of what could have been a fairly strong representative Democracy … Unfortunately it will die before long.

  2. Wootsy, I agree w/ you. I’m just saying scorched earth is maybe the best option for winning if this gets real nasty. I hope that isn’t the strategy mostly because of all the shit going on internationally.

  3. nick spinelli
    1, May 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm
    SWM, Throwing Republicans a small crumb like this nomination will do nothing. There’s blood in the water, and Comey is just a small mackerel swimming in it. It’s too late to play nice. If I were Obama I would go scorched earth.
    the problem w/scorched earth at this level of doings is that the ‘earth’ is the whole Country. And everyone in it. And to leave the Country so weakened by infighting makes us vulnerable to other entities that up to now have been benevolent by confusion but if the political divide is not rectified soon we are being put in danger by the very peoples whose positions of governance are meant to protect us. Not so smart! So Obama, whether you like him or not, has shown time and time again his reasonableness and willingness to compromise and work with. From where I sit he is chasing to the right in the hopes of bringing them closer to center….a center that STILL falls far too off to the right for my comfort….but don’t blame him for the loss of civil liberties and drecht that follows because his actions are not those of a petulant teenage girl….

  4. Dredd, is the outlet. On a related note, I’ve been lobbying for a universal sarcasm font.

    Naturally, I’m cynical about the prospects of my effort in that regard.

    Apologies if my prior comment was misconstrued as truth. I figure that is telling enough in its own right.

  5. Jay,

    Does that come from Jay’s Daily or is there a media outlet you can refer we readers of this blog to?

  6. This Just In: The media outlets refusing to attend Holder’s meeting first consulted with the administration in a separate closed door meeting in order to discuss the matter and seek the administration’s prior approval to decline Holder’s invitation.

    “It was the professional thing to do,” said a representative of the media outlets temporarily posing as principled advocates of free press. “You know, national security and whatnot. Death and The Dark Side, and things of that nature. Look! American Idol’s on!”

  7. Why . . . it’s the recently rarely glimpsed spine of the 4th Estate, the coelacanth of social function.

    While gratifying to see? Let’s see how long it lasts. The proof is in the eating of the pudding.

    That being said? Good for you, press corps. Good for you. Now keep it up.

  8. SWM, I chuckled when you wrote about Chaffee “flipping.” In my biz that meant a person ratting out a criminal colleague. Being Rhode Island, quietly one of the most corrupt states, that may be down the road. However, the Chafee’s always have seemed honorable. But, one never knows!

  9. ap,

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if US v. Kim (10-cr-225) wherein the government has charged Kim under the Espionage Act for allegedly disclosing to a reporter that North Korea might test a bomb to which his defenders argue that such disclosure is both harmless and commonplace in Washington, and that the charge against him is excessive and unprecedented, were the straw? 😉

    In trying to bolster their case they are also seeking to prove that Kim made false statements to investigators when he denied talking to Rosen about North Korea’s testing plans. Not finding the relevant emails in Kim’s account, they decided to go after Rosen’s emails for confirmations of their suspicions. Of course, in order to do so they had to claim Rosen was a “coconspirator” … something they have yet to formally charge for the last three years.

    This all feels like a Frank Wills moment.

  10. DoJ Fights to Stop Release of Secret Court Opinion on Unlawful Surveillance of Americans

    By Ryan Gallagher

    Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013, at 6:24 PM

    “Of course, the DoJ is likely to argue strongly against the release of the controversial opinion on the unlawful snooping in line with a general trend toward excessive government secrecy. But it should be possible to strike a balance between national security state secrets and the public’s right to know—especially when it comes to information about unconstitutional government surveillance.”

  11. ACLU Comment on Possible Nomination of James B. Comey as FBI Director

    May 30, 2013

    CONTACT: 212-549-2666,

    WASHINGTON – Below is a statement from Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, on President Obama’s reported plan to nominate James B. Comey as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    “While the ACLU does not take official positions on nominations to appointed office, there are many questions regarding Comey’s record that deserve careful scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee. As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration. Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig. Although Comey, despite tremendous pressure from the Bush White House, deserves credit for courageously stopping the reauthorization of a secret National Security Agency program, he reportedly approved programs that struck at the very core of who we all are as Americans.

    “It’s critical that the Senate ensures that the men and women of the FBI know that they have a leader who will demand adherence to the rule of law and will hold those accountable who do not, wherever he or she may find them.”

  12. nick, i think Obama will be fine. Let the far right wing republicans circle. Even Bob Dole and McCain are calling the extremists out. The split could happen in the republican party. Chafee flipped yesterday.

  13. SWM, Throwing Republicans a small crumb like this nomination will do nothing. There’s blood in the water, and Comey is just a small mackerel swimming in it. It’s too late to play nice. If I were Obama I would go scorched earth.

  14. Glenn Greenwald:

    James Comey is far from the worst choice to lead the FBI. I doubt it will change much of anything one way or the other, and there are undoubtedly worse people within the senior ranks of the Democratic Party who would be the likely alternatives. But it’s still a potent symbol of how little has changed in the right direction and how much it has changed in the wrong direction. If you had told progressives in 2008 that the Bush lawyer who approved the NSA program would be named by Obama as the FBI Director, they would scoff in disbelief. Now they’ll cheer. That is what has changed.”

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