Accuracy in Media

New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson appeared on CBS’s Face The Nation, and told host Bob Schieffer that she was “concerned that the process of news gathering is being criminalized,” because of the Justice Department’s leak investigation that has targeted journalists.

2006 Annual Matrix AwardsSchieffer asked Abramson why the Times decided not to participate in Attorney General Eric Holder’s off-the-record meeting last week, intended to make amends with news organizations upset by the leak investigations.

Schieffer: Jill, the Attorney General asked the bureau chiefs at the various news organizations here in Washington to meet with him to discuss his handling of all of this. The New York Times, CBS, and some others decided not to attend. The reason we didn’t go is because they told us it would be off the record. We also wanted to have our counsel present. Why did you decide not to do it?

Abramson: Well, for many of the same reasons, Bob. To have this private meeting with the attorney general and not be able to share anything about it with our readers didn’t seem to have a point to me. But the Times and our readers are quite concerned about the six active criminal leak cases that the Obama administration has pursued. That’s more than all the other administrations combined. And, yeah, we are concerned that the process of news gathering is being criminalized.

CBS News and the Times weren’t alone as the Associated Press, McClatchy, CNN, Fox News, ABC News, NBC News and The Huffington Post also declined to attend, taking a rare unified stand against the Obama administration. The last meeting on Friday was later declared on-the-record, and was attended by USA Today, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that there are some people in the West Wing who wish that Holder would resign and said that the White House has been “apoplectic” about him for a long time.

That probably goes double for conservatives, who have complained about Holder for several years, but watched as their criticism fell on deaf ears. Now that the media have been targeted, it’s unlikely his “kiss and make up” meetings will lessen the pressure for him to resign.

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