Journalist Robert Novak's (search) status as a CNN contributor will remain unaffected during a federal probe into the revelation of a CIA officer's identity, executives at the news channel said Sunday.

"I think we're all aware that no one really knows what's going on in the investigation of the Valerie Plame (search) incident," said Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/U.S. "So it would be awfully presumptuous of us to take steps against a guy in his career based on second, third, fourth-hand reporting."

Klein praised Novak as "one of the most outstanding political reporters this country has ever known."

A call to Novak's Washington office seeking comment Sunday was not immediately returned.

In a July 2003 newspaper column, Novak identified Plame, the wife of administration critic and former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson (search), as a CIA operative.

Wilson has said the leak of his wife's name was an attempt by the administration to discredit him after he challenged its assertion that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was seeking to obtain material from Niger (search) to make nuclear weapons.

Two other reporters connected to the Plame story openly fought the revelation of their sources. Novak has repeatedly refused to comment about his role in the federal investigation.

One reporter, Judith Miller (search) of The New York Times, was jailed for contempt for refusing to cooperate with prosecutors. She gathered material but did not write a story about Plame.