Attorney Gen. Eric Holder’s plans to make peace with the media upset over his department’s surveillance of journalists has run into problems, as several news organizations have refused invitations to meet with him unless the meetings are conducted on the record.
Fox News, CNN, CBS and McClatchy joined The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Huffington Post saying they would not participate if, as the Justice Department proposed, the session be held off the record.
The AP issued a statement saying it wants any meeting to be on the record, meaning it could be described and quoted in news stories.
New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said in a statement: “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.”
Revelations surfaced last week that Justice investigators targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010 by monitoring his telephone records and emails and tracking his movements in and out of the State Department, with Mr. Holder personally signing off on the probe.
Investigators apparently were looking into how Mr. Rosen obtained information for a 2009 story on North Korea. The news came as the administration already was under fire for obtaining extensive phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press in probing another national security leak.
David S. Jackson, executive editor of The Washington Times, said the newspaper also would not attend any such meetings if it were invited, if the Justice Department insisted it was an off-the-record discussion.