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. ap,
    It is a wordpress problem. I have had comments sucked into space as well.

  2. anonymously posted 1, May 30, 2013 at 9:30 am

    And then there’s this (veering OT, but it’s all part of the same animal):

    Obama’s new FBI chief approved Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretapping scheme …
    ========================================
    Maybe not so OT, since this is systemic of a direction, The W Direction.

  3. DNC’s Brad Woodhouse says that the refusal of news organizations to attend the “off the record” meeting is an action that forfiets their “right to gripe” about the way they have been treated by the administration.

  4. “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.”

    I agree that the response of the Times, CNN and AP to this nonsense was correct. However, I would offer the caveat that had these organizations really been “principled” after 9/11, we wouldn’t have the “Patriot Act”, the wars, the torture and this attack on press freedom. Though many, including Professor Turley, warned that the ever escalating ignoring of the Constitution would lead to this type of behavior, these “principled” organizations found themselves the cheerleaders for the “now this changes everything” mindset.

    Holder should be fired immediately for the host of extra Constitutional activities he’s presided over. However, we need the “free press” to do their damned jobs in reporting everything the American people really need to know and not just react when they are personally threatened.

  5. Can’t post. Tried several permutations, getting rid of links, etc. This is getting old. I realize that this is Askimet or whatever it’s called, but if it’s kicking out perfectly good comments, then tell me again what’s good about it?

  6. From the Greenwald link, above:

    “…several organizations have commendably refused to attend under those conditions, including the New York Times, Associated Press, the Huffington Post and (even) CNN. Unsurprisingly, both Politico and the Washington Post will eagerly submit to that condition and attend the meeting, even though they’ll be barred from telling their readers what was discussed. Here is the unbelievable response of the official spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, upon learning that several leading media outlets will not attend under that condition:

    “POTUS asked AG to review how leak investigations are done but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right gripe.” (tweet)

    Unless media outlets submit to the Attorney General’s demand that they meet with him off-the-record, then they “forfeit their right to gripe” over the DOJ’s seizure of their emails and telephone records and labeling them as criminals. Thus decree-eth the DNC.”

  7. From the Greenwald link posted above:

    Holder’s off-the-record meeting with media outlets

    Following up on yesterday’s column about Eric Holder’s attempts to meet with media outlets over the leak investigations controversy and his demand that the meeting be off-the-record: several organizations have commendably refused to attend under those conditions, including the New York Times, Associated Press, the Huffington Post and (even) CNN. Unsurprisingly, both Politico and the Washington Post will eagerly submit to that condition and attend the meeting, even though they’ll be barred from telling their readers what was discussed. Here is the unbelievable response of the official spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, upon learning that several leading media outlets will not attend under that condition:

    Will try posting this in pieces.

  8. Okay — two comments that didn’t post… (Similar content in both.)

  9. Holder’s off-the-record meeting with media outlets

    Following up on yesterday’s column about Eric Holder’s attempts to meet with media outlets over the leak investigations controversy and his demand that the meeting be off-the-record: several organizations have commendably refused to attend under those conditions, including the New York Times, Associated Press, the Huffington Post and (even) CNN. Unsurprisingly, both Politico and the Washington Post will eagerly submit to that condition and attend the meeting, even though they’ll be barred from telling their readers what was discussed. Here is the unbelievable response of the official spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, upon learning that several leading media outlets will not attend under that condition:

    “POTUS asked AG to review how leak investigations are done but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right gripe.” (tweet inserted by this writer (ap))

    Unless media outlets submit to the Attorney General’s demand that they meet with him off-the-record, then they “forfeit their right to gripe” over the DOJ’s seizure of their emails and telephone records and labeling them as criminals. Thus decree-eth the DNC.

    ——

    Woodhouse is now backpedaling a bit, not surprisingly.

  10. From the same Greenwald link:

    Holder’s off-the-record meeting with media outlets

    Following up on yesterday’s column about Eric Holder’s attempts to meet with media outlets over the leak investigations controversy and his demand that the meeting be off-the-record: several organizations have commendably refused to attend under those conditions, including the New York Times, Associated Press, the Huffington Post and (even) CNN. Unsurprisingly, both Politico and the Washington Post will eagerly submit to that condition and attend the meeting, even though they’ll be barred from telling their readers what was discussed. Here is the unbelievable response of the official spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, upon learning that several leading media outlets will not attend under that condition:

    Brad Woodhouse ‏@woodhouseb 16h

    POTUS asked AG to review how leak investigations are done but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right gripe.

    Unless media outlets submit to the Attorney General’s demand that they meet with him off-the-record, then they “forfeit their right to gripe” over the DOJ’s seizure of their emails and telephone records and labeling them as criminals. Thus decree-eth the DNC.

  11. And then there’s this (veering OT, but it’s all part of the same animal):

    Obama’s new FBI chief approved Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretapping scheme

    James Comey becomes just the latest symbol of the Obama legacy: normalizing what was very recently viewed as radical

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/30/james-comey-fbi-bush-nsa

    But this is exactly where the Obama administration has taken us. Comey will run the FBI alongside Obama’s chief of the CIA, John Brennan, who spent the Bush years advocating multiple torture techniques and rendition. The Agent of Change reaches deep into the bowels of the Bush National Security State and empowers them to run two of the most powerful agencies. Then again, the Bush NSA program is hardly controversial in the Age of Obama: it was Obama who first voted to immunize the telecoms from all legal liability for their illegal participation in that program, then the Obama DOJ succeeded in having all lawsuits over that program dismissed on secrecy and immunity grounds, and then Obama himself succeeded in first enacting and then renewing the law that legalized most aspects of that Bush NSA eavesdropping program.

    What was once deemed radical is now normal. Bush officials who formally authorized programs once depicted by progressives as radical and criminal are now heralded by those same progressives as Champions of the Constitution. The politician elected on a pledge of Change and Restoration of Our Values now routinely empowers exactly those Washington officials who championed the policies against which he railed. It’s one thing to watch Obama shield and protect all Bush officials who enabled this illegal warrantless domestic surveillance scheme. It’s quite another to watch him put in charge of the FBI the very official whose signature deemed it to be legal.

    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.

  12. While I usually agree with Prof Turley, I have to disagree with the position on this incident. We would have no problem with the cops going after the phone records of a bookie, or a fence for stolen property, but now it seems the reporters are supposed to be a more privileged kind of “fence”. What was given out was clasified information that was stolen AND caused a threat to life on the part of the operatives. Unless you take the position that the government has NO right to any secrets, it is hard to make a good case against Holder since he violated NO law. It does as it is intended to do which is to put the fear of exposure into those who would leak seriously damaging intel to the public.

    One cannot decry the outing of Valerie Plame as I and most of Democrats did, and then turn around and say that this search is wrong. I was all for putting Cheney into prison for that breach, NOT for putting journalists into jail as Bush did. I guess that simply looking for evidence lawfully and putting people in jail are equal in importance. I doubt that too many people especially those in jail will agree with that. So we have the FACT that Cheney actually used government power illegally to cost the CIA millions of dollars for partisan ends and drive a woman from her job. Then to equate going after phone records of journalists who handled stolen property as the same gravity is beyond absurd. It is true that such a search WILL chill investigative reporting, it is hardly a legitimate concern since it does involved truly sensitve intel that must be protected. I do not have a problem if the disclosure involved illegal activity on the part of the government since one then has to weigh the gravity of competing wrongs.

    The real problem with this proposed meeting is that is was supposed to be off the record. I DO agree that to have jounalists come to a meeting that is publicly announced, but not report the contents is absurd. THAT does violate jounalistic ethics I would think. Though it is NOT illegal, nor of sufficient legal gravity to demand Holders resignation. To say that this is the case is simply silly.

  13. Amazing how the media has developed a backbone when their back was in play. How about some backbone with regards to the reminder of this administrations attack on civil rights? More coverage on who we are killing with drones? What was our Ambassador doing in Benghazi on 9/11? The relentless push by this administration to prosecute drug offenses declared legal in several states? Or is the love affair between the news media and this administration just in a minor tiff over their pride being tarnished with this one offense?

  14. Apparently the New York Times is interested in some papers at the Pentagon which they have recently been given access to and do not have time to visit off the record with the Holder whom they refer to as “soon to be gone guy”. Some offspring of some former publisher of the Times, not related to Lindsey Graham but with the same last name, called in to tell them to look into these Pentagon papers. But Julian Assange is coming into town for the meeting and is hoping that Holder will make an off the record “leak” that Assange can “wiki”. But the rest of the journalists are stepping off out of harms way because Holder is known for not having good aim when he takes his leak. Thank God its all off the record.

  15. Maybe they’ll all just meet at the White House for a beer….not counting on it though…

  16. The most effective non-violent protest is refusing to comply. Good for them.

  17. I like what Glenn Greenwald said about Holder’s request that this meeting be off the record:

    “The fact that Holder feels comfortable requesting this without any sense of irony reveals how he understands the role and function of the press corps vis-a-vis political officials (as one Twitter commentator sardonically put it: “Presumably if anyone leaks what’s said, he’ll throw them in jail”). This is exactly the kind of constant accommodation given by the media to the US government that I was referencing here. What self-respecting journalist would agree to this condition?”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/29/holder-media-pushback-leaks-fox-ap

    The correct answer is, of course, none. Despite the fact that many reporters will likely make Greenwald’s point by agreeing to such terms in advance, the fact that two organizations refused them is a good sign. Now if we could just get them to see a parallel between the planned prosecution of Assange and the treatment of Fox’s Rosen (or the NYT’s Risen et al), or simply get them to cover Manning’s trial, that would be progress.

Comments are closed.