Attorney General Eric Holder has extended an olive branch to major media outlets in the wake of the AP leak scandal. But the meetings with Holder are off the record–so the Associated Press, The New York Times, and others including NBC News won’t be attending. While no administration, Democrat or Republican, is ever happy with the press, the White House ”feels very strongly they ought to be able to protect any secrets they have developed behind closed doors,” NBC’s Tom Brokaw said on Thursday’s show. Yet “that’s not how it works in a democracy.”
The offer by Holder comes as he faces continued scrutiny over the validity of the claim he made in his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. In light of reports of these hearings Holder currently holds a negative approval rating, 23% to 39%, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
The same poll also points out only 22% of those surveyed think that Washington’s priority should be investigating the issue, compared to the 72% who believe the focus should be on handling the economy and unemployment. Only 15% see the A.P. story as the most pressing controversy. But “just because the public isn’t terribly interested doesn’t make it unimportant,” Brokaw said. “I do think that there very important issues that are involved here–on both sides, by the way.”
Between all the recent scandals, Republicans have been trying to draw a comparison to Watergate. “Watergate was a constitutional crisis of the highest order.” Brokaw said. Brokaw, who was the White House Correspondent at the height of Watergate, pointed out that some sort of scandal happens in every administration, but that doesn’t qualify them as Watergate.