Novak Became Fair Game After He Broke His Silence on Plame

Jay Rosen at PressThink has a good analysis of the imbroglio that led to the on-air meltdown of rightwing propagandist Bob Novak earlier this week.

Rosen points out that in the two years since he published the name of CIA spy Valerie Plame, Novak had maintained a strict policy of not commenting on the case – until last Monday when Novak broke his silence – in his own column – to deny assertions by Bob Harlow, a former CIA official, who said he warned Novak not to publish Plame’s name in his July 2003 column. Novak complained in his column on Monday that the CIA official had not warned him enough. (He should have said, “Bob, Plame’s identity is extra-super-secret,” we suppose.)

Here’s Rosen’s reasoning:

Novak, in order to counter the suggestion that he had been properly warned but went ahead anyway — which he said would be “inexcusable for any journalist and particularly a veteran of 48 years in Washington” — decided to take up his pen. Ladies and gentlemen, he said, people have got to know whether their columnist is a crook. Or a jerk. Or a tool. Did I go ahead with the name of a CIA covert operative despite being warned? No, I did not.

Old Novak rules: sorry fellas, can’t talk. New rules: Novak chooses when. When to take the Fifth on advice of counsel, when to ignore counsel and respond to the news with his own explanations of what happened to reveal Plame’s name.

This, I believe, is the real cause of Thursday’s break down of professional discipline on air. The legitimacy of Novak’s exemption from questioning had collapsed earlier in the week. Ed Henry knew it and was ready with that news. Novak was not ready to receive it. So he invented an out.

One comment

  • August 7, 2005 - 6:31 am | Permalink

    Rosen’s theory looks pretty good. Add that with the fact that Novak is completely deranged.

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