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Robert Novak Permanently Gone from CNN: Fans of Ethical Journalism Rejoice

16

December

Once called a "douchebag of liberty" by Daily Show host Jon Stewart, political columnist Robert Novak has earned a unique sort of infamy among those who value ethical journalism for his role in revealing publicly the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame -- touching off a massive federal investigation over who leaked her identity, and avoiding any visible penalty.

But that may no longer be true, following news that CNN has decided not to renew Novak's contract to appear as a contributor, ending the former Crossfire host's 25-year association with the cable newschannel.

Novak had been off camera at CNN since August, when he stormed off the set during a segment with James Carville, after Carville needled him for one of his positions. "Well, I think that's bullshit, and I hate that," he said, just before standing up, ripping off his microphone and walking off camera. CNN suspended him indefinitely then, sparking talk Novak's days there were seriously numbered.

His tantrum was a somewhat indelicate end to a situation which had become increasingly embarassing for both CNN and Novak, anyway. Because he declined to speak substantively about the incredible firestorm of investigations, subpoenas and the indictment sparked by his column, CNN was stuck with a commentator who refused to comment on the most newsworthy political story of the day -- forced to occasionally try questioning him on camera to avoid looking totally idiotic.

Long known as a media mouthpiece for the GOP, Novak emerged through the CIA leak case as the administration's fourth estate hitman -- publishing information circulated by Bush officials to strike back at longtime administration critic Joseph Wilson through his wife, Plame (This piece maintains White House brain Karl Rove had actully intended to talk to Novak about something else).

While New York Times reporter Judith Miller sat in jail and Time reporter Matthew Cooper spoke to prosecutors, Novak avoided the subject during his on air appearances -- making CNN look like a network which couldn't even get news from one of its own employees. In a recent speech, Novak suggested people stop bugging him and Bob Woodward and instead pester President Bush to reveal who leaked Plame's name.

Of course, CNN denied the leak case prompted its action, confirming Novak's departure in a terse, 452-word press release.

"Bob has also been a valued contributor to CNN’s political coverage. We appreciate his many contributions and wish him well in future endeavors," said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., in a line which was remarkably similar to the kiss off he gave ousted anchor Aaron Brown.

Let me echo that sentiment. Well, except for the part about Novak being a "valued contributor" or wishing him well in future endeavors.

Because, frankly, I can think of no better fate for a guy who enabled the Bush administration's subversion of the press while kicking off a federal investigation which definitively curbed all journalists' rights to keep sources secret.

UPDATE:

The douchebag of liberty now says he will work occasionally as a Fox News contributor. That's fair and balanced for you.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]

    

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