Robert Novak

From Academic Kids

Robert David Novak (born February 26, 1931) is a U.S. conservative columnist ("Inside Report", since 1963; until 1993 co-written with Rowland Evans) who is also a well-known television personality. He appears on programs such as CNN's Capital Gang or Crossfire or NBC's Meet the Press. He is referred to, by some Washington insiders, as "The Prince of Darkness".[1] (

Born in Joliet, Illinois, he attended the University of Illinois from 1948 to 1952 and earned a bachelors of arts degree. He wrote for the Joliet Herald-News and The Champaign-Urbana Courier while in college. After serving in the Korean War as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he joined the Associated Press and covered politics in Indianapolis. In 1957, he covered Congress for the AP in Washington, D.C. until he joined the D.C. bureau of The Wall Street Journal in 1958 to cover the Senate, eventually becoming the chief congressional correspondent in 1961. During his early years in Washington, Novak, although a Republican, held more centrist viewpoints than he does today; indeed, he supported the presidential candidacies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, with whom Novak was friends.

Novak has strong conservative views, yet does not strongly identify with the current direction of the Republican Party. Like Pat Buchanan, he is ideologically similar to what many call a paleoconservative. Born Jewish, Novak lost his faith in college but converted to Catholicism in 1998. He is a member of the Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

In 1966, he teamed up with Rowland Evans to create the Evans-Novak Political Report until Evans' retirement in 1993. His column is syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times. Unlike with many columnists, Novak's columns often contain original reporting in addition to analysis and opinion.


Controversies and scandals

After a published anonymous quote from a Democratic senator labelling 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern as being for "acid, amnesty, and abortion" was contested as fabricated, critics began deriding Evans and Novak's work as "Errors and No Facts".

In 2003, he disclosed the identity of CIA analyst Valerie Plame in his newspaper column after receiving a leak from a member of the Bush administration. The leak is currently being investigated, but some conservatives question the nature of the leak itself. The operative status of Plame, her function, and her involvement in her husband's trip to Africa are all questioned by some.

Critics complain that Novak has been inconsistent as he insists it would violate journalistic ethics to reveal the source of the Plame leak, but later called on CBS to reveal the source of the memos alleging President Bush had evaded National Guard service (see Rathergate).

Novak had also previously violated the principle of protecting sources by revealing Robert Hanssen as the confidential source for some of his articles. New York Observer, August 6, 2001: "Robert Novak. The conservative columnist admitted on July 12 that Mr. Hanssen had served as his main source for a 1997 column attacking Janet Reno, then the U.S. Attorney General, for supposedly covering up 1996 campaign-finance scandals." Ironically, Novak indicated at the time that he felt justified in doing so because Hanssen was a traitor - he had been found guilty of revealing the identities of undercover CIA operatives. Novak also wondered whether he had been "set up" by Hanssen.

In March 2004, Novak insinuated on CNN's Crossfire that Richard Clarke had revealed government mistakes in his book dealing with the war against terrorism because he resented Condoleezza Rice's position as a black woman on the cabinet. In response to this insinuation, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show labelled Novak a "Douchebag of Liberty." Stewart has repeated the phrase a few times when Novak said or did something Stewart considered foolish or hypocritical.

In August 2004, after other journalists had reported on it, Novak admitted that his son, Alex Novak, is the Director of Marketing for the Swift Boat Veterans' publisher, Regnery Publishing. At the time he said that he didn't "think it relevant." Two months later reported that Regnery's owner is also the publisher of Novak's own US$297 newsletter and that Novak is on the board of a foundation whose chief holdings are the stock of Regnery's parent company. [2] (

In May 2005, Novak raised a stir when he used a Holocaust analogy to attack the negotiations between several Democratic and Republican Senators to reach a compromise in an ongoing debate over the filibustering of judicial nominations. The compromise would reportedly involve several Democrats agreeing to support the confirmation of some, but not all, of the nominees that they had previously filibustered, in return for several Republicans agreeing to vote against a proposed rules change that would remove the filibuster entirely (the "nuclear option"). Novak said agreeing to confirm some of the judges but not others was " going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber", a comparison the Anti-Defamation League termed "abhorrent" in demanding an apology. [3] (


  • Agony of the GOP, 1964
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power
  • Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power
  • The Reagan Revolution


  • Joe Conason, New York Observer, August 6, 2001, "Was Hanssen a Spy for the Right Wing, Too?"

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