A plan by Attorney General Eric Holder to hold meetings with news organizations about guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters has run into snags over the terms of discussions. The attorney general wants the meetings to be completely off the record.
Due to the fact that such important meetings will not be on the record, The New York Times, Associated Press and other outlets have refused to attend.
The review of the guidelines called for last week by President Barack Obama come as the Justice Department deals with an outcry over its secret gathering of AP reporters' phone records and the emails of a Fox News journalist.
Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the Times, told The Huffington Post that it wouldn't be "appropriate" for the outlet to attend any meeting unless it is on the record. She reiterated the fact that the paper's Washington bureau is "aggressively covering the department's handling of leak investigations."
Further, an AP spokesperson provided a statement to Politico outlining why they will not be attending:
“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.”
In addition to the New York Times and AP, Politico's Roger Simon and National Journal's Ron Fournier have also declined their invitations to meet with Holder.
The planned meetings are to take place over the coming weeks. The department said Holder plans to engage with news media organizations, including print media, wire services, radio, television, online media and news and trade associations. Discussions are to include news media executives and general counsels as well as government experts in intelligence and investigative agencies.
Obama has asked Holder to report to him on any recommended policy changes by July 12.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.