US media boycott of off-the-record Eric Holder meeting

US media boycott of off-the-record Eric Holder meeting

A number of major US news organisations have declined to meet Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss leak investigations because the conversations would be off the record.

The New York Times, Fox News, Reuters and the Associated Press news agency are among those refusing to attend.But broadcaster ABC News and the Washington Post say they will attend.The meetings are part of a review on how the justice department conducts investigations involving reporters.The justice department is facing questions over its seizure of phone records and emails from journalists at the Associated Press and Fox News, taken without the news organisations’ knowledge.

The records were taken as part of investigations into leaking classified information to the media.The meetings between journalists and the Obama administration law enforcement officials are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.Reuters spokeswoman Barb Burg said the news agency “welcomed” the opportunity to hear Mr Holder’s explanation on the subpoenas.”But [we] believe firmly his comments should be for publication,” she said.The Associated Press said they would not attend, but would “offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter”.

And New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said it would not be “appropriate” for the newspaper to attend an off-the-record meeting.”Our Washington bureau is aggressively covering the department’s handling of leak investigations at this time,” Ms Abramson said.CNN, CBS, Huffington Post and Fox News have also joined the list.At least four news organisations said they would attend the conversations. ABC News said they would attend but press for the meeting to be held on the record.

Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris explained the publication’s attendance by saying he routinely has off-the-record conversations to discuss news coverage and newsgathering practices.And the Washington Post’s Executive Editor Martin Baron said he would prefer to meet on the record, but that “journalists routinely participate in off-the-record sessions, whether they prefer those conditions or not”.The Wall Street Journal also says it will attend. NBC News, another major broadcaster, has not commented. – BBC