Robert Novak died this morning at home after a long battle with cancer.
My brother, Tim Carney, worked for Novak from 2001 to 2004 and again from 2007 to 2009. Here’s his obituary for the heroic TV commentator and newspaperman.
Robert D. Novak, who began covering Washington during the Eisenhower administration and later achieved fame as a columnist and television commentator, died in his home Tuesday morning after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 78.
A nationally syndicated columnist for 45 years, Novak wrote “Inside Report”—a reported column on the inner workings of Washington policy and politics—with Rowland Evans six days a week from 1963 until Evans’ retirement in 1993. For 15 years, Novak continued the column—thrice weekly—until a brain tumour forced his retirement in July 2008.
Cable television made Novak’s a familiar face nationwide. An early star at the nascent CNN in 1980, Novak was a fixture on the right at CNN’s Crossfire, and he relished his work as the executive producer of the Capital Gang.
An outspoken conservative in later decades, Novak came to Washington as a moderate—he and Evans originally planned to take no sides in their column, except for support of civil rights. Novak progressively moved rightward, becoming a flag-bearer for the supply-side economics that drove Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts.
Still, Novak often sparred with the power centres on the Right. President Richard Nixon ordered his staff to “cut off” Novak and Evans from the White House and solicit “tough letters” to the journalists from subscribers of the Evans-Novak Political Report, after a critical paragraph in the newsletter.
30-five years later Novak’s criticism of the Iraq War—and sceptical reporting on the intelligence justifying the invasion—made him persona non grata in the Bush White House and earned him slurs from the most hawkish conservatives.
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