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New York Times, AP Won't Attend Off-The-Record Eric Holder Meeting

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NEW YORK -- The New York Times and Associated Press said Wednesday that they will not attend a meeting this week between Attorney General Eric Holder and the Washington bureau chiefs of several media outlets to discuss guidelines for journalists in leak investigations.

Times executive editor Jill Abramson cited the Justice Department's request that the discussion be kept off the record as a reason for not attending.

"We will not be attending the session at DOJ," Abramson said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "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."

"Evidently, there will be a future session with department officials on the substance of how the law should be applied in leak cases and I am hopeful that our counsel, David McCraw, will be able to participate in that meeting," Abramson added.

President Obama announced last week that Holder would meet with media executives to discuss guidelines concerning journalists caught up in leak investigations. There has been growing concern among journalists and lawmakers about the DOJ's tactics following the seizure of Associated Press phone records in one investigation and the accusation in court documents that a Fox News reporter may have committed a crime in the course of reporting in another.

With the Times refusing to accept the off-the-record ground rules, it seems likely other news organizations will similarly decline to meet with Holder.

AP spokeswoman Erin Madigan White told HuffPost in a statement that the organization would also not attend if the meeting is off the record.

"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," Madigan White said. "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."

The Huffington Post's Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said the news site would decline an off-the-record meeting.

Following Abramson's announcement, Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted that President Obama had asked the attorney general "to review how leak investigations are done but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right gripe."

Journalists would argue that the issue is not about simply refusing to meet with Holder, but that the government shouldn't set conditions that would prevent news organizations from reporting on what takes place.

CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted a link to Woodhouse's remark and noted mockingly, "This is actually the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee."

This story has been updated to include comment from the Associated Press, as well as the public comments of Brad Woodhouse and Jake Tapper.

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