I have a brand new National Journal story out this morning about Karl Rove and Bob Novak, telling much of the plot/backstory for the first time as to what may have gone down during their infamous July 9, 2003 telephone conversation, which led to Novak's outting of Valerie Plame.
As it turns out, the conversation was like a scene out of a David Mamet play. Much of the conversation was an attempt--unsuccessful--by Rove to talk Novak out of publishing a column critical of Frances Fragos Townsend, who President Bush had just named as his deputy national security advisor for combatting terrorism. The OVP and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby were behind leaks to discredit Townsend, and Rove had been personally tasked by President Bush to defend Townsend.
It was after Rove and Novak were apparently done discussing Townsend, if their accounts are to be believed, that they then moved on to the subjectValerie Plame. We now know what became of that.
The irony, perhaps too obvious to point out, is that during the very same telephone conversation that Rove was engaging in a damage control effort to defend against an OVP/Libby effort to discredit Townsend, he was working in tandem with Libby and the OVP to discredit Valerie Plame.
In other Novak news, CNN has terminated their twenty-five year plus relationship with him. No worries, he still probably makes a few hundred thousand dollars more than this blogger.
The indispensable Jim Romenesko has the memo sent out by CNN PR guy Edie Emery: "We appreciate his many contributions and wish him well in future endeavors." Sounds like Mr. Emery is cribbing from Bill Keller's memo on Judy Miller.
Ordinarily, in a situation like this, some bigwig at CNN is supposed to wish Novak well. `In this case, they left it to the poor PR guy. No worries there, either. Those PR guys get paid the big bucks--just to do stuff like that.
And in still yet in other Novak news: Stop pestering him as to who was his original source (his second being Rove) that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA officer!
Novak said in a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier in the week that if anyone really wants to know, they should ask President Bush. The Great Garboesque Novak just wants to be left alone. He told the John Lock Foundation: "So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the President as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' "
What basis Novak has for making such a claim is unknown. But, in his defense, he only made the comments, after all, during a speech--such speeches are neccessary so that he be able to maintain the life style to which he is accustomed; even more the case now that he has lost his CNN contract.
But no-one should be too hard on him. It's not like a speech given in the middle of nowhere--who knew a reporter would be there?!--those people--those pesky, no good reporters--has to have any basis in fact. It's not like Novak made the statement on CNN or anything. Of course, much of what Novak has passed off as some insider Washington corridor information over the years on CNN hasn't exactly been all that correct. (Thanks to the Daily Show, Eric Alterman, and others for the regular fact-checking.)
(Please, no emails that I am a Novak apologist!)
Novak should given some slack for his miscues on CNN. One should not hold him to the same standard for accuracy and fairness on CNN that one would hold Novak to when he sits down to write his syndicated column. But then, of course, there have been a few things he has reported in his columns over the years that haven't exactly held up, either.
Oh well, I am just going to give up defending this very nice man!
Update, 8:34 P.M. As things turn out, Novak has been hired by Fox! He will soon be holding court with Bill O'Reily and Geraldo Rivera, sometime very soon... too soon.
Second Update, 3:01 A.M, up too late, the following day: Novak gets about $30,000 reportedly for a single speech. For that kind of money, the least he could do would be tell his audience who his second Plame source was. But to tell them to simply stop pestering him about the issue?!... Nobody asked for their money back?