To Friends, Hardliner Novak Was a 'Pussycat'

Hard work made him 'the ultimate insider journalist'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 18, 2009 2:11 PM CDT
This 1958 file photo shows Associated Press staff reporter Robert Novak on the telephone in the Senate Press Gallery on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Bob Novak called himself a “rough and tumble” journalist, “but to his friends and colleagues, he could be a pussycat,” writes Eleanor Clift in Newsweek. Despite their widely divergent views, Novak—who died today at 78—helped Clift get a spot on the then-all-male McLaughlin Group. When the cameras went on, he’d “lunge forward” and “wag his finger in my face.” But offscreen, the two felt like “buddies.”

Novak “wrote thousands of columns, and yet he will be most remembered for his role in revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative,” Clift notes. The incident cost him “his standing in the journalistic community,” a position he’d toiled to achieve. Being a newsman was his only dream, and by committing to “long hours, traveling, working the phones, cultivating sources,” he became “the ultimate insider journalist.” (Read more Robert Novak stories.)