Reporters Tell Attorney General Eric Holder They Won't Agree To 'Off The Record' Meeting As Scale Of Journalist Spying Expands
from the thousands-and-thousands dept
Of course, as all of this was happening, a sympathetic story leaked to the press, claiming that Eric Holder feels tremendous remorse for the specific case of the spying on James Rosen. Though, as you read the details, it sure sounds a lot more like "political expediency" rather than honest "remorse."
The sweeping seizure of the AP phone records had thrown Justice on the defensive. But at least in that case Holder had some personal insulation; having been interviewed by the FBI, he'd recused himself from the investigation and, thus, had not personally signed off on the subpoenas. In the Fox case, however, Holder knew he bore a direct measure of responsibility. He had approved a search-warrant application that equated a reporter's newsgathering activities with criminal conduct. That put Holder at the center of the brewing controversy, all while the Obama administration was being buffeted over allegations that the IRS had targeted conservative groups and by the continuing Benghazi tempest.However, he supposedly is upset that his public image is not reflective of what he thinks of himself.
By week's end, Holder knew he had to be proactive in stemming the criticism and restoring the department's credibility with the press. He and his advisers began exploring ways to reform the Justice Department's internal guidelines for investigating leaks to safeguard the media against overly intrusive tactics. (Obama announced a review of the guidelines during a major speech on counterterrorism last Thursday.) Meanwhile, on Friday, Holder made a round of calls to Capitol Hill in an attempt to mollify concerned lawmakers. In calls to Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Holder said he understood why there had been such an outcry over his department's actions. As one of Holder's advisers put it, the message was: "Look we get it. We understand why this is so controversial, and we're ready to make changes to find the right balance." At the same time, Holder enlisted their help to get a media-shield law passed in Congress. (On Sunday, Schumer announced the formation of a bipartisan "gang of eight" to press for the legislation.)
But sources close to the attorney general says he has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department's—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves.Of course, one way to avoid being accused of such things is... you know... not to do them in the first place.
In response, Holder announced that he'd be holding a meeting with news organizations to go over the DOJ's guidelines on getting access to such information. But, he couldn't even do that correctly. After announcing that this meeting would be off-the-record, a variety of news organizations, including the NY Times and the Associated Press announced they would not attend.
Of course, they could just attend and then "leak" the results. What would Holder do in response?