Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Department Of Justice Begins to Mend Media Fences...

Politico's Mike Allen has an interesting thing on the Justice Department trying to reach out to major media outlets and the DOJ charts a more palatable path forward in terms of how to coexist with the media.

From today's Playbook:

The Justice Department began contacting D.C. bureau chiefs of major print and broadcast news organizations yesterday to set up a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss changes to the department's guidelines for subpoenas to news organizations. A source close to Holder said that in retrospect, he regrets the breadth and wording of the investigation involving Fox's James Rosen (which Holder approved), and recognizes that the subpoena for AP records (Holder had recused himself from that case) took in more phone lines than necessary.
"The A.G. realizes that things might have gotten a little out of balance, and he wants to make changes to be sure the rules fully account for the balance between the First Amendment and law enforcement," the source said. The first media meeting will be held at main Justice, likely later this week. A later meeting will include First Amendment advocates.
A Justice Department official tells Playbook : "Attorney General Eric Holder will hold meetings with several Washington bureau chiefs of national news organizations in the next two days as part of the review of existing Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters. This review, which was announced by President Obama last Thursday, is consistent with the Attorney General's long standing belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy. These meetings will begin a series of discussions that will continue to take place over the coming weeks. During these sessions, the Attorney General will engage with a diverse and representative group of news media organizations, including print, wires, radio, television, online media and news and trade associations. Further discussions will include news media executives and general counsels as well as government experts in intelligence and investigative agencies."
Holder also has been doing bipartisan outreach to the Hill on media-shield legislation. Obama had announced in his counterterrorism speech last week that Holder "has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and he'll convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I've directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th."
A Justice official, re the AP records : "Because the investigation is ongoing and involves classified information, the Department is limited in what it can share. However, we have made clear that the subpoenas were sought only after a months-long investigation which included over 500 interviews and a review of tens of thousands of pages of documents. The subpoenas sought telephone toll records for specific telephone numbers associated with the reporters whose reports contained the leaked material. Toll records include only the sort of information the public commonly sees on their telephone bills, and do not include any information about the content of any conversations. The subpoenas covered a period of less than two months. Finally, the Department did not monitor, or attempt to obtain the content of, any telephone conversations. The focus here was on finding the leaker, and was not targeting AP or its ability to gather or report the news."
--MIKA BRZEZINSKI, on "Morning Joe": "A source close to Holder tells 'Morning Joe' that changes are coming with regards to leak investigations. We have also learned that the Justice Department will be holding meetings with journalists and news organizations over the next few weeks to go over their concerns."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The GOP has had it both ways and the Dems likely have no one to blame but themselves. The initial suspected "leaks" riled up Conservatives which led to the DOJ digging into some media members personal lives in an un-called for way. History seems prepared to slam the Obama Administration for not controlling some information and then over-reacting in a ham handed fashion to make matter worse. 


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