Novak Dishes: More Tidbits

Other tidbits from Robert Novak's fast-paced bio The Prince of Darkness, 50 Years Reporting in Washington:

--He feels betrayed by David Corn of the Nation, whom he liked sparring with on CNN's old Crossfire program. He said Corn laid the basis for what would become the attacks on Novak: that he let the Bush administration use him to take a shot at a critic.

--He raps Newsday's Timothy M. Phelps for writing that Novak said his sources came to him with the Plame tip. "My Newsday quote was reprinted endlessly for years to come, as was Phelps's introductory statement to what I said: 'Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information.' I said no such thing."

--Novak assailed some of the Washington Post's coverage of the Justice Department's probe into the CIA leak case, specifically the claim that the administration was shopping the Plame story around town and that she was "fair game" because of Wilson's attacks on the president.

Writes Novak: "It was one thing to be attacked frontally by Joe Wilson and sniped at in the Nation and Newsday. It was much more serious to be misrepresented in the Washington Post, the paper to which I owed so much. Those misrepresentations became the perceived truth about me."

--Novak really hated a story written by the Baltimore Sun suggesting that he loved the attention of the case and investigation. And don't get him started about the bloggers: "I was daily accused of treason and denounced in the most obscene terms, with personal threats against me and my family--even my grandchildren."

--The betrayal he felt from fellow reporters, he said, was summed up in a New York Times column by Geneva Overholser, a former Washington Post ombudsman, which alleged "ethical lapses" by Novak for attacking whistleblower Wilson and his wife. He recalled meeting her for the first time at a party following the annual Gridiron Club dinner when she confronted him face to face: "I don't see how you can stand to see yourself in the mirror in the morning. You're a disgrace to journalism."

--Novak felt more betrayal from conservative pal Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. He recalls watching Kristol on C-SPAN as the magazine editor distanced himself from Novak, whose conduct in the CIA leak case he called "reprehensible."

Still, at age 75, Novak sounds satisfied and happy with his extraordinary career, which started with the Joliet Herald-News in 1948, where he made $42.50 a week. He made as much as $1.2 million in 2004, writing his column and appearing on CNN before the floor fell out.

"I made a lot less than that in 2006. My profile for Fox News was much smaller than it had been at CNN, but I was treated with respect and permitted to deliver commentaries by myself without debating left-wing counterparts. The CIA case did not keep me off the air there as it had at CNN. I also became a TV commentator for Bloomberg News, working with old CNN colleagues Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt. My workload was diminished to a level appropriate for a 75-year-old. I had more time for my column, which several readers actually told me had improved after I left CNN."


By Paul Bedard
  • CBSNews

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