By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What about Novak?

David Corn, at, offers some perceptive speculation as to why Judith Miller is in prison and Robert Novak isn’t. The headline – “Novak Squealed” – does a disservice to Corn’s thoughtful analysis. (Via Jay Rosen.)

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper may not have quite received the personal release that he claimed before deciding to testify about his anonymous source, top Bush political adviser Karl Rove. An excerpt from the team story, which carries Adam Liptak’s byline:

LIPTAK: “A short time ago,” Mr. Cooper said, “in somewhat dramatic fashion, I received an express personal release from my source.”

But the facts appear more complicated than they seemed in court. Mr. Cooper, it turns out, never spoke to his confidential source that day, said Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for the source, who is now known to be Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser….

Mr. Cooper and his personal lawyer, Richard A. Sauber, declined to comment on the negotiations, but Mr. Sauber said that Mr. Cooper had used the word “personal” to mean specific.

Hmmm. I certainly wouldn’t want to find myself faced with the same dilemma as Cooper, but I find myself wanting to know more. This would appear call into some question the “Time bad/Cooper good” paradigm that took hold after Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine decided to turn over Cooper’s notes and e-mails.

Finally, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff is fairly persuasive in writing that Rove’s leak to Cooper was not intended as political retribution but, rather, was aimed at warning Cooper off what Rove believed – or least hoped to persuade Cooper – was a bad story. It may well turn out that there was less to the whole Valerie Plame matter that met the eye. If that’s the case, then White House officials will have to ask themselves why they failed to learn the first lesson of Watergate: it’s the cover-up, stupid.

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