Something very interesting has been unfolding over the last day or so. It has to do with Eric Holder's request to meet off-the-record with journalists to discuss the Justice Department's handling of leaks to the media. The key phrase is “off-the-record.” It's almost laughable that Holder would make such a request, considering the nature of what he wants to discuss.
I'm not the only one to view this off the record request incredulously: Fox News, CNN, the New York Times, the Associated Press and the Huffington Post have all denied Holder's request to meet, so long as the “off-the-record' demand remains. Meanwhile, the Washington Post and the Politico will be attending the meeting. Why? I've had a difficult time figuring that one out.
Ron Fournier has a piece in the National Journal: 7 Reasons Why the Media Shouldn't Keep Eric Holder's Secrets. Among the reasons he cites include …
- “The media's fundamental job is to shine a light in the darkest corners of government. If we stand for anything, it's transparency and accountability. Meeting secretly with Holder borders on hypocrisy.”
- “The public's trust in media is already at an all-time low …”
- “There is an uncomfortable irony in the fact that an attorney general investigating his policy for spying on the media is asking the media to keep his words secret.”
I happen to agree. Yet according to DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse, “Journalists forfeit ‘right to gripe’ if they refuse off-the-record meeting with Holder,” according to a tweet he sent out yesterday. Apparently that is how things are going to play out here. Journalists will be forced to play by the administration's rules or risk their ability to probe and ask questions in the future.
Honestly, what does Eric Holder have to gain from this meeting? What does the press who attends have to gain from this meeting? The fact of the matter is that Holder lied to Congress when he said “with regard to potential prosecution of the press for disclosure of material, that is not something that I have ever been involved in, heard off, or would think would be a wise policy.” Holder himself signed off on the search warrant of James Rosen. Either he lied to Congress or he lied to the judge about the potential prosecution aspect of James' Rosen's case. Either way, he loses.
Yet as recently as yesterday, White House propagandist Jay Carney continued to defend Holder saying that he is “doing a good job.” But interestingly, Carney directed any questions about Holder lying to Congress to the Justice Department. It's like we are running in circles chasing our tails. Jay Carney is just about as credible as Eric Holder at this point. Jay Carney held “off-the-record” meetings on Benghazi with journalists the same way Holder wants to hold these “off-the-record” meetings on spying on the media. If these people have nothing to hide, then why the insistence on “off-the-record?” At a time when credibility is crumbling and public distrust is sky-rocketing, it seems brazenly tone deaf to make these off-the-record requests.