Yesterday was not Bob Novak’s first raging outburst. From Vanity Fair comes this interesting tidbit:
On the afternoon of last year’s New Hampshire primary, Robert Novak was in the Merrimack Diner in Manchester broadcasting a segment of Crossfire. It was a garden-variety event for Novak, then on his 12th presidential campaign and his umpteenth edition of CNN’s gabfest, until a local man, furious with Novak for outing a covert C.I.A. agent in his syndicated column, started shouting at him during a commercial break. “You’re a traitor!” he shrieked. “You’re a traitor!” The man was hushed up, the program resumed, and Novak talked more politics.
But afterward, as Novak made his way to the CNN bus, his tormentor followed, taunted him some more, and allegedly shoved him from behind. Novak, a short septuagenarian whose three-piece suits hide a considerable gut, grabbed the much larger man by the arm and gave him a shove back, sending him sprawling. Then he prepared for more serious skirmishing. “Novak looked like a little caged animal, fist locked and cocked back,” an unsympathetic observer later wrote, “like a garden troll gone insane.” Before he could take another swing, his Crossfire counterpart Paul Begala dragged him away.
Another Crossfire colleague, Tucker Carlson, watched it all in amazement. When Carlson joined the program, in 1999, Novak had received him frostily. To him, Carlson was an arriviste and a wimp, someone of insufficient conservative ardor and experience. For a time, the two barely spoke. But that wintry night in New England, Novak won Carlson over. “He decked a guy 20 years younger, and I have to say, I respected that,” Carlson recalls. “I thought it was such a ballsy thing to do. It’s the reason he’s stuck around so long and been so productive: he’s a tough guy. There was something admirable—something not of my generation—about it.”