Nobody Knows What Novak Knows

Against the advice of his legal team, Robert Novak wrote a column yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times that kind of defends his role in the outing of Valerie Plame (Novak published her name first), but really seems to be splitting hairs in his own defense while flinging mean-spirited barbs at Joseph Wilson, Plame’s husband.

Novak appears to be playing the role of the abused hound who, finally free of his fetters, can defend his besmirched good name:

Though frustrated, I have followed the advice of my attorneys and written almost nothing about the CIA leak over two years because of a criminal investigation by a federal special prosecutor. The lawyers also urged me not to write this.

In response, Nick Madigan wrote today in the Baltimore Sun a column that tries to ascertain what Novak is trying to say with his half-explanations and Wilson smears.

Novak’s decision to address only partially the issue of his involvement, after many months of unanswered questions about it, did not sit well with some fellow journalists.

“It’s sort of frustrating,” said Michael Hoyt, executive editor of Columbia Journalism Review. “It’s like the prairie dog who sticks his head up and goes back down again into the dark, where you can’t ask him any more questions.”

In Novak’s column yesterday, Hoyt said, “he defends himself, but whether he’s defending himself by splitting hairs is another question.”

Gary Hill, chairman of the ethics committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, said:

“But what about Novak? What has he done and how has he escaped the pressure? … Is he not talking or is he just talking at the moment? He appears to be having it both ways. He’s defending himself in this particular instance while at the same time not telling us everything he knows.”

Bob — you shoulda listened to your lawyers ….


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