Low marks from free press group as AG Eric Holder leaves post

There have been mixed messages following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s retirement announcement Thursday. Some tout his advancement of civil rights and voting rights as an accomplishment. Others see his tenure marred by controversy. Many Republicans took shots at Holder on his way out. But from one interest group in America–free press advocates–the verdict is fairly synchronized: Holder’s time as AG has been a disappointment.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation cites many examples of why Holder was the least press-friendly attorney general in years:

  • The Justice Department’s unprecedented prosecutions under the Espionage Act.
  • Secret subpoenaing of Associated Press reporters phone lines.
  • Continued pressure on James Risen of The New York Times to reveal his sources, damaging the reporter’s privilege.
  • A grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks and all involved.
  • Less than open policy regarding the Freedom of Information Act.

It will be interesting to see who will replace Holder as the nation’s top law enforcement official and how he or she stands on free press and speech issues. More importantly, it will be the actions and inactions of the next attorney general that will be important to defining how the press is treated in the coming years.