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Time's Matt Cooper Cries Uncle

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
Matt Cooper cried Uncle today, and I can't say as that I blame him.

Cooper is the White House reporter for Time magazine who along with Judith Miller from the New York Times have refused to give up their source to a special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame fiasco.

Plame, you'll remember, is the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson. Wilson went to Niger and found out those guys were not in fact sending nuclear material to Saddam Hussein.

It hurt the Bush Administration's case for war, and someone in the government thought it might be a good idea to hurt the Wilson-Plame family by outing her as a CIA operative -- which is against the law, by the way.

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Neither Cooper nor Miller broke the story -- Robert Novak did -- and it's been curious that the Special Prosecutor has been fixated on these two, especially since Miller never wrote a word.

Last week Time gave up the fight and handed over Cooper's notes. He seemed to hate it, but there was little he could do about it. Meanwhile Miller and the Times have been steadfast. This is a less than perfect case of reporters protecting a source, in that the source in question certainly had an agenda. But, in an age when so many newsrooms are driven by commerce and actual reporting seems like an endangered practice, we stand in awe of this battle.

I don't fault Matt Cooper for giving in on this fight. He's got a six-year-old son and was worried what effect his imprisonment might have on him. When he's old enough to understand, he'll be proud.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith

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