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Is CNN Marginalizing Robert Novak?

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Is the Robert Novak era at CNN coming to an end?

Novak has appeared on the network since 1980. But in recent months two of Novak’s politically oriented shows — the weekday Crossfire and weekend The Capital Gang — have been canceled. Last week, Inside Politics, which occasionally featured Novak, was pulled in favor of The Situation Room, the network’s new three-hour, late-afternoon news show.

For the time being, Novak won’t be seen on any of CNN’s remaining shows. CNN has pulled him off the air indefinitely, following an Aug. 4 outburst on Inside Politics.


Novak’s outburst happened 10 minutes before the end of the show in the midst of an exchange among Novak, host Ed Henry and liberal analyst James Carville. They were talking about the possible Senate candidacy of Florida congresswoman Katherine Harris when Carville needled Novak and tried to interrupt.

“He’s got to show the right-wingers that he’s got backbone,” Carville said. “Go ahead, the Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching. Show them you’re tough.”

Novak, shown on the screen sitting next to Carville, waved his right hand and replied: “I think that’s bull—-, and I hate that. Just let it go.” While Henry addressed another question to Carville, Novak stood up, walked off the set behind Carville — fully visible to viewers — and apparently pulled off his microphone.


The veteran conservative pundit and columnist has been under fire in recent months for his role in the identification of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak’s column identified her, and questions surrounding administration leaks — Novak indicated he learned Plame’s identity from two “senior administration officials” — led to an ongoing investigation being conducted by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Novak’s refusal to discuss the matter publicly has drawn criticism from many quarters.

Henry later told Reuters that “I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to able to ask him about that, and hopefully we’ll be able to ask him about that in the future.”

But Novak said his outburst, and subsequent suspension, had nothing to do with Henry’s planned question.

“That had nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing,” Novak said. “I was sorry he said that.”

However, New York University Journalism Professor Jay Rosen’s blog quotes an e-mail from reporter Scott Heiser of Financial Times, which said that Novak walked out of an Aug. 1 Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference, when a question came up about the Plame investigation.


Regardless, the question has to be asked: Is CNN trying to marginalize Novak?

Certainly, with Novak unwilling to comment on the Plame-leak story, the conservative pundit has essentially marginalized himself on one of the top political and journalism stories of the year.
CNN, and its website, have covered Novak’s involvement in the Plame-leak story as aggressively as any other news outlet.

CNN’s decision to rid itself of yellfests like Crossfire may mean that the network is growing tired or partisan arguments posing as information on what is supposed to be a “news” network. Perhaps the latest brouhaha will serve as an excuse for CNN to reduce Novak to an occasional commentator, or to end its 25-year relationship altogether.


This article first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.

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About David R. Mark

  • There is a lack of intelligent discourse on television to begin with. Whatever happened to diverse opinions? Why can’t people converse without the hysteria? I think reality TV is a part of it (Jerry Springer in particular).

    Novak’s reaction is not within the decorum we want or expect from our TV commentators. It is akin to Nikita K. banging his shoe at the UN: like amateur night. Kennedy had Nikita by the Penske Pinkies and the Russian knew it. The only way he could react wa slike a schoolboy who didn’t get his A.

    I guess Novak is feeling the heat about his involvement with the ousting of the CIA operative. Or maybe, just maybe, he needs to retire.

    To quote the flight attendant played by David Spade on SNL, “Bye, bye.”

  • gonzo marx

    we always knew Novak talked shit..now he’s been suspended fo it



  • What with CNN being a sold-out pawn of the propaganda wing of the administration I would think they’d just have to keep Novak on since he’s hand in hand with Rove and Bush. Right?


  • I hope it is. Not only is he a dick, but he is a traitor against the United States Government at a time of war. Regardless of who scooped him on the Plame issue, HE printed it. He belongs in jail with American Taliban supported John Lindh Walker.

  • btw, that whole ‘This is bullshit’ outburst was really great television. I enjoyed it more than the John Stewart calling Tucker Carlson a dick on live TV! Seriously, that little Zell Miller piece of spin control will cost him the rest of his career until the treason indictments are posted at least.

  • Treason indictments? Do you live on the same planet with the rest of us, Lono?


  • Dan

    The radical left, of which Carville is a card-carrying member is on the move to marginalize any moderate, or to the right, voice. Anything but a Teddy or Barbie position must be filtered.

  • ss

    Novak was with CNN for 25 yrs, plus they gave him a weekday AND a weekend show.
    That is, until he screwed himself by getting INVOLVED in DC cloak & dagger instead of just reporting it.
    Not to be a dick or full of bullshit, Dan, but the right still has plenty of MSM outlets.
    Case in point:
    I saw Karl Rove (why StayPuff, why do you hate us so?) on FOX explaining that (state) constitutional bans on equal rights for gays marriages (or as we in the radical left see it, the same law for all adults) were a matter of state’s rights and upholding tradition.
    Some of you may wish they hadn’t given him air time for that, but they did.

  • Nancy

    I wouldn’t be surprised if CNN is trying to dump Novak; he’s kind of out of credibility, as well as being persona non grata around too many high & mighty places & people. Possibly he leaked to Rove; possibly Rove leaked to him, but in any event, Novak was under NO obligation to repeat everything he hears or knows, no matter who he got it from, and by loudly declaiming the Plame thing he proved himself as irresponsible & in violation of the law as whoever told him about it. He is guilty of total lack of judgement & common sense, at the least, if not far more, & far more serious issues. I don’t think he’ll be missed much. I do hope he DOES end up in jail; he would be a good object lesson to journalists to use a little discretion instead of using anything they can for self-aggrandizement.

  • It wouldn’t be a bad idea for CNN (and the other cable channels) to introduce a younger and broader batch of pundits and other analysts — both on the left and right.

    But I think that Novak may have worn out his welcome, at least on CNN. I’m sure he’ll still be an occasional roundtable guest on NBC’s Meet the Press.