Kessler Wins First-Ever Novak Award: ‘I Try to be Fair and Tell the Truth’

RK.jpgRon Kessler, chief Washington correspondent for, is honored to receive an award in the name of a journalist he respected so much.

This past weekend David Keene, who chairs the American Conservative Union and whose foundation represents CPAC, awarded Kessler, chief Washington correspondent of, the first Robert Novak Journalist of the Year Award at CPAC.

Voting was based on 96-CPAC co-sponsors.

“Novak told it like it is,” Kessler told FBDC in an interview this afternoon. “He came down on Republicans when he thought they were in the wrong and praised them when he felt they were doing right. That is the approach that I take to journalism. I try to be fair and to tell the truth.”

Kessler said Newsmax allows him to bring out items “the rest of the media tend to ignore”. He cites Fox News as a “real example” of being “fair and balanced.”

A former WaPO and WSJ reporter in the 70s and 80s, Kessler said he knew Novak but not terribly well. “I would see him at parties and we had mutual friends and I think he was respected by the whole range of media,” he said.

But Kessler says today’s journalism is struggling. “When I was at the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, if we would have written the stories the way they are written today we would have been fired,” he said.

He believes standards are questionable. “I think it’s a combination of more competition, cable news, and also just a jihad by the members of the press to go after the Bush Administration and a lowering of standards by editors,” he said. “It’s really hard to put your finger on it. It’s a witch hunt and it’s hard to explain how a witch hunt starts.”

And the pace doesn’t help. “There’s pressure to get things on the web right away, don’t get the other side, just run with what you have.” he said. “That definitely contributes to the problem. In the end it’s the trustworthy outlets that are surviving.”