Time blinks

The magazine will turn over Matthew Cooper's notes to a federal prosecutor. The New York Times does not approve.

By Tim Grieve
Published June 30, 2005 2:28PM (EDT)

Having lost its shot before the Supreme Court, Time magazine announced this morning that it will give reporter Matthew Cooper's notes to the federal prosecutor investigating the outing of Valerie Plame.

In a statement, the magazine said the Supreme Court's decision not to intervene in the case "has limited press freedom in ways that will have a chilling effect on our work and that may damage the free flow of information that is so necessary in a democratic society." However, it said it will turn over Cooper's notes because "the same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments."

Cooper said Wednesday that he'd prefer not to hand over the notes but that it was, ultimately, Time's decision to make.

The New York Times' Judy Miller is still refusing to comply with the subpoena she received in the Plame investigation, and the Times' report on Time's decision notes the newspaper's disapproval of the magazine's choice. "The decision by a major news organization to disclose the identities of its confidential sources appears to be without precedent in living memory," Adam Liptak writes in a story posted on the Time's Web site this morning. In a statement, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said: "We are deeply disappointed by Time Inc.'s decision to deliver the subpoenaed records. We faced similar pressures in 1978 when both our reporter Myron Farber and The Times Company were held in contempt of court for refusing to provide the names of confidential sources. Mr. Farber served 40 days in jail and we were forced to pay significant fines. Our focus is now on our own reporter, Judith Miller, and in supporting her during this difficult time."

And what about Robert Novak, the man who first revealed Plame's identity but isn't facing the risk of jail time? He tells CNN that he "will reveal all" -- just as soon as the grand jury investigation is over.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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