Syndicated columnist, author, and political commentator Robert D. Novak, 78, died earlier today from complications of a brain tumor.
Journalists are sentimental about themselves (remember the Tim Russert grief fest?) and the major news networks, such as CNN, are running lengthy reminiscent retrospectives of Novak.
The author of several books including his 2007 memoir The Prince of Darkness, , Novak cultivated an image as the quintessential “conservative” maverick. By reputation, he was one who challenged the GOP, broke ranks with neoconservatives over Israel and the war in Iraq, expressed skepticism over the official storyline of theÂ savage attack on the USS Liberty by Israeli jets and torpedo ships, eventually became entwined in the Valerie Plame-CIA leak scandal, and out-scooped other reporters on numerous occasions.
In reviewing Novak’s memoir, I argued that this view was significantly at odds with reality.
Novak was first and foremost a Washington insider’s insider. He ranked third in most appearances on “Meet the Press” and worked as a CNN commentator for 25 years. He was a master at leeching onto divisive figures inside various administrations (Karl Rove is one example) who ultimately would serve his own ends, secure his reputation and advance his own career. He was skilled at the art of dodging career-ending encounters that would put him at odds with the media elite.
As an assistant editor for the Evans-Novak Political Report, I served as a liaison between my employer (Eagle Publishing) and Novak’s staffer writers Tim Carney and David Freddoso. Although at the time I was involved in editing three separate and distinctly unique publications, my editorship of The Occidental Quarterly with Sam Francis ran afoul of the politically correct mothership, Eagle Publishing, after the $PLC’s Heidi Beirich called Novak’s office to inquire as to my employment status.
Despite my nearly three years of diligent work, it was Novak’s nervousness at having to answer to a far-left ideological, obese hack that began the process that caused Eagle to force me to resign as managing editor of Human Events. Jeff Carneal, Eagle’s president and fairy godmother of political correctness there, ordered that I leave the office immediately. At least I had driven to the office that fateful day and was able to grab my mementos on the way out.
Novak talked tough about freedom and liberty. But he didn’t defend mine. Nor, in his politic avoidance of emerging National Question issues, was he defending America’s at the end of his life.