POLITICS

Washington Post: The Justice Department has allowed us to say AG Holder supports press freedom

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Justice,Eric Holder

As The Washington Examiner‘s own Susan Ferrechio reports Friday most news organizations boycotted on principle Attorney General Eric Holder’s offer to join a press conference Thursday  in which he discussed the Obama’s White House various efforts to monitor, intimidate and harass journalists. Holder’s condition was that the meeting be “off the record,” meaning none of the reporters would be allowed to report what was said at the meeting.

Among those who did attend was the Washington Post. Today’s Post has an account of the meeting — sort of. That is, they have a story about what the Justice Department allowed them to say about its efforts to protect press freedom. The result is just beyond parody (All emphasis is added):

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pledged Thursday to take concrete steps to address concerns that the Justice Department has overreached in its leak investigations and said officials would seek procedural and possibly legislative changes to protect journalists’ First Amendment rights.

Holder’s commitment came at a private meeting with news executives after criticism that the Justice Department had infringed on the news media in several high-profile leak investigations. Participants said he told them officials would revise guidelines for issuing subpoenas to obtain reporters’ phone records.

The 90-minute meeting was attended by a small group of journalists after several news organizations objected to the Justice Department’s insistence that it be held off the record. The participants, however, reached an agreement with the Justice Department under which they could describe what occurred during the meeting in general terms. The Justice Department is expected to meet with other news organizations and media lawyers in coming days.

Holder and aides “completely endorsed the president’s statement that reporters should not be at legal risk for doing their job,” said Martin Baron, The Washington Post’s executive editor, who was among the participants. “They acknowledged the need for changes in their own guidelines and the need to have a more rigorous internal review.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

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