From the Twitter account of formerly hyper-employed media critic Howard Kurtz on Thursday:
Seems like the "cool" media position now is to blow off Eric Holder, a departure from usual Beltway practice of wanting exclusive briefings
— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) May 30, 2013
A couple of factual points need to be made. First, the off-the-record session with Attorney General Eric Holder is not a "briefing" in the strictest sense of the word. Rather, it is a secret discussion between the attorney general and Washington bureau chiefs about "the Justice Department's guidelines for dealing with journalists in leak investigations," for the purpose of "bring[ing] about meaningful engagement."
Secondly, it is not an "exclusive." "Exclusives" are what happens when a single news outlet breaks a story. As the Department of Justice has invited every major news outlet to attend this session, it cannot be called "exclusive." Also, the whole reason this is being kept "off-the-record" is so that no one can "break a story" based on the briefing. (Though if one news organization in attendance decides to say, "To hell with the off-the-record rules," an exclusive may, potentially, be had.)
Also, who is "blowing off" Eric Holder? Seems to me that the organizations that are opting out are not doing so lightly. And if Eric Holder would relent and allow this session to happen on the record, everyone would probably participate in this decidedly non-exclusive encounter session. It's the Department of Justice that's doing all of the blowing-off in this case.
Is it possible that Kurtz hasn't actually read up on what this meeting is supposed to be about? Possibly. He's been known to do that. That said, I have a funny feeling that the news organizations that are declining to participate were way, way into the freedom of the press before it was cool.
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