On his CNN program Monday afternoon, Jake Tapper took a moment to look at the “buried lead” that is Fox News reporter Jana Winter facing jail time for refusing to out her confidential sources in a Colorado case. “Where is the public outrage?” Tapper asked his audience.
In July 2012, during a “huge scoop,” Winter cited anonymous law enforcement sources when reporting that Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes had once given his psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans for a killing spree. Tapper wrote on his CNN blog that her reporting on the story revealed how “the system failed” the victims, and that her scoop allowed the “public to judge how well the judicial, and mental health, and other systems are working.”
“Instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack,” Tapper lamented.
And so, Tapper wanted to know, “where’s the public outrage?”
On CNN, the host spoke with the National Journal‘s Matthew Cooper, who had faced jail time for refusing to out his sources during the Valerie Plame Wilson scandal. While reporting for Time, Cooper refused to out Karl Rove as being his source who led him to believe Wilson was operating as a covert agent for the CIA.
“The problem is that if people are going to find out stuff – they’re going to know what their politicians are doing, what their other institutions are doing – a lot of that depends on journalists using confidential sources,” Cooper told Tapper.
“If they can’t protect those sources, they can’t do their job,” he added.
“Imagine if Woodward and Bernstein had given up Deep Throat before blowing the cover off Watergate,” Tapper wrote. “The first amendment is on the line here, and so is the future of investigative journalism. If it was not for Winter, who knows if we would even know that warnings had been missed about the Aurora shooter, that the system had failed.”
Watch the segment below, via CNN:
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