Representatives of media organizations met with Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday to discuss new revisions to the Justice Department's media guidelines, Politico reports. The group’s primary concerns were the case of James Risen. the The New York Times reporter who has refused to testify against his suspected source, and the new DOJ standards that serve as guides to prosecutors, which include language about when it is appropriate to subpoena reporters and search news rooms. Holder didn’t discuss Risen specifically, but said, “As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.”
Holder promised to make public a memo about “steps the Department would take to protect journalists' records that might, notwithstanding the guidelines, still be obtained through either a subpoena or search warrant.” The new regulations resulted from revelations last year that the department had subpoenaed the phone records of Associated Press reporters and labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen a co-conspirator in separate leak investigations. Journalists took issue with a clause stating that journalists would be protected from subpoenaes or searches for actions taken in the course of “ordinary newsgathering.” Their concern was that adding “ordinary” gives prosecutors latitude to define some kinds of newsgathering as not ordinary and go after reporters.