Attorney General Eric Holder -- hesitating daily between justifying DOJ actions and offering up mea culpas for journalist spying scandals -- will meet with Washington bureau chiefs of several publications this week to discuss guidelines for journalists in leak investigations.
However, the New York Times, the AP and the Huffington Post have declined to attend Holder's meeting on the grounds that the A.G. had proposed an off-the-record session. Jill Abramson, the Times executive editor, summed up the problem aptly: "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."
The AP agreed with Abramson. spokeswoman Erin Madigan White told HuffPost, "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 Executive 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. We would expect AP attorneys to be included in any planned meetings between the Attorney General’s office and media lawyers on the legal specifics."
With a stunningly ill-thought tweet, noted by HuffPo, Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted that in refusing to meet with Holder, the news organizations were "forfeit[ing] your right gripe." The comment betrays a problematic belief -- underpinning the government's treatment of the media and leaked information -- that the administration should set the rules and control what gets to be news.