The Day The Clown CriedThe idea -- as cited by Lloyd Gove in his column today -- that TIME's Matt Cooper is fishing for a job at the NYT because the newsweekly's hire of Mike Allen has made him feel "a bit crowded" seems off to us. First of all, Allen is not that much taller than Dickerson. Does hog the covers, tho. And then there's the question of whether Matt's fishing... or was he pushed? Far from being crowded, we hear he may be lonely: Since his bravura performance of "I Was THISCLOSE to Jail" on the courthouse steps last month, the reception by his colleagues has been stilted and the magazine's editors aren't sure what to do with him. (Jim Kelley's response to inquiries about Cooper's future in last week's NYT piece were somewhat less than enthusiastic: "It's not a matter of appropriateness; it's a matter of effectiveness.")

The Times, however, has the perfect role for Cooper: foil. Our sources say that it's not so much the Times that's interested in Cooper as it is managing editor Bill Keller. The rank-and-file, on the other hand, wonder why Keller would be interested. We suspect Keller is looking for a soulmate, or at least a cellmate. With almost-a-martyr Cooper on staff, Keller might succeed in muddying the waters over of the paper's internal investigation of Judith Miller's role in the leaking of the name of CIA agent Valerie Wilson (Plame, whatever).

Please don your tin-foil hats before we continue after the jump.

Editor & Publisher recently laid out a theory that Keller and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. have defended Miller and stick to the claim that whatever she learned, she learned while pursuing a story, but the paper's own reporting hints otherwise, with E&P connecting the dots to suggest that Miller went to jail not to protect a source, but to protect herself. (Arianna has sources wondering the same thing.) Last week on "Imus," James Carville went even further, saying that the special prosecutor leading the federal leak investigation is "going to subpoena Bill Keller and all them and asked them what Judy Miller told them and if they don't talk he's going to stick them in jail." He continued, saying that around Washington, people "speculate that Judy Miller has a Fifth Amendment problem, not a First Amendment problem;" rather than having uncovered Wilson's name in the course of reporting, Miller was "used by the White House to spread" the Wilson-Plame story herself. This would prove to be very satisfying if it were true -- we can go back to hating Judy Miller again.

Back to Matt Cooper: We're not sure what, specifically, Keller would hope to get out of hiring Cooper -- if he's looking to collect a First Amendment hero to replace Miller, Cooper falls slightly short of the mark -- but we do understand that Matt is more fun to have around the office.

Ragin' Against the Machine [Hotline (sub. req.)]

Time Fills Slot to Cover White House [NYT]

Judith Miller's Tale Under Scrutiny -- At Her Own Paper [E&P]

The Expanding Judy File [HuffPo]

Time magazine writer Matt Cooper [AFP]


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