Robert Novak, Political Journalist, Dies After Battle With Cancer

By Andrew Gauthier 

Conservative political commentator and columnist Robert D. Novak, 78, died Tuesday, at home in Washington, after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Novak wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades, and produced a long-running column, “Inside Report,” with his colleague Rowland Evans, which ran in hundreds of newspapers from 1963 until Novak’s cancer diagnosis last summer. Early in his career he was nicknamed the “prince of darkness,” a moniker he embraced–Novak confessed he often gave politicians the choice of being a source or a target.

Novak was invited to join CNN’s line-up shortly after it launched in 1980. In his memoirs, Novak explains that his television appearances established him as a “right-wing ideologue,” though he took on Republicans as well, and vehemently opposed the Iraq War. Starting in 1984, Novak worked as a co-host on CNN’s Crossfire. In 2005, he famously stormed off the set of CNN’s “Inside Politics” after a comment from James Carville. (video here )


Novak is also well-remembered for writing a column in which he revealed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, triggering a lengthy federal investigation and resulting in the conviction of a top aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Despite his reputation in the nation’s capital, he was respected by the left and the right as an outspoken and hard-working reporter. In response to the support he felt after his diagnosis, Novak wrote in a column, “I had thought 51 years of rough-and-tumble journalism in Washington made me more enemies than friends, but my recent experience suggests the opposite may be the case.”