Robert Novak and the Hypocrisy of Many Media People

Robert Novak liked to think of himself as a tough journalist -- "The Prince of Darkness" and all that. But like a lot of "tough" journalists, he wasn't so tough when things got tough for him personally.

When I was working for a journalism magazine, I wrote a March 2003 story about columnists and cartoonists who multitask -- i.e., do their regular newspaper features while also doing TV work, radio work, stand-up comedy, etc. One of the people I interviewed was Robert Novak, who was still doing commentary for CNN at the time along with his syndicated column. Novak was happy to participate in the story because it was basically a puff piece that put him and everyone else I interviewed in a positive light.

Several months later, Novak wrote the infamous column outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. After that, I left a phone message with the conservative pundit asking for comment. He never called back. Over the next few years, as the Plame case went through its various twists and turns, I called Novak several more times. Again, no reply from the "tough" guy.

I know, I know. His lawyers probably told him to stay mum. But would Novak have tolerated that defense from people he was trying to write about?

Which leads me to this point: Many journalists, editors, and media owners expect politicians and others they cover to talk when controversy arises. But most media people clam up when they themselves become embroiled in controversy. What a double standard! If you dish it out, you should be able to take it.

"The Prince of Hypocrisy"?