Columnist Robert Novak passed away today, ending an era of political journalism that spanned five decades. Novak rose from a $42.50 a week staff reporter at the Joliet, Illinois Herald News in 1948 to become one of the most influential political reporters of his time, a constant presence in print and television journalism. He was 78 years old.
Novak was the confidant of presidents and politicians of all stripes. (One of his favorite stories was of the wedding reception thrown for him and his new bride Geraldine by her old boss: then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson.)
Most recently, Novak was at the center of the political firestorm resulting from his disclosure, in a July 2003 column, of the CIA employment of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Amb. Joe Wilson, who was deeply embroiled in an apparently contrived controversy surrounding the pre-2003 Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Bob, as he always had before, kept his source’s confidence regardless of the pressure put upon him.
Novak’s long partnership with Rowland Evans — in their joint column and in the Evans and Novak Political Report — set a standard for inside-Washington political reporting that few have ever achieved.