The Case of the Second Novak: Nothing To Be Confused About

There is nothing for liberal blogger John Amato to be confused about.

1. When I wrote on December 2nd that Time's Viveca Novak was a friend of Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's lawyer, I based that on the recent media reports. Once I did my own reporting I discovered that those reports--can you believe it?--were wrong. I noted this in my December 3 posting at, which, more importantly, explained what occurred during the Novak-Rove conversation that has become of interest to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

2. Ask me about sources who are not named in a piece of mine, and I have to say what every journalist says: not gonna tell ya. If I could have named those sources in my blog-report, I certainly would have. My guess is that Amato already realizes this.

3. How does someone become a longtime source and not become friends? I've been a journalist in Washington for 18 years. There are plenty of people whom I consider sources whom I do not call friends. Some I don't talk to for years, but then I'll speak to them quite a lot while working on a particular story. And drinks don't suggest much to anyone working in Washington. Just the other day, I met a source at a darn fine restaurant. He told me some juicy stories. I picked up the tab. He had a salad. I had sole. We both drank iced tea. Does that mean anything? He's not a friend--though I do think he's a swell fellow for helping me.

4. As for Viveca Novak describing her side of the tale, she--like most witnesses--will not be saying anything in public until after she appears before special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury. (She has not yet testified.) My guess is that after that she will speak in some regard. I hope she does.

I don't see what Amato's larger point is. Is he harboring--or spreading--suspicion about Viveca Novak (who is no relation to columnist Bob Novak, whose column outed Valerie Wilson as a CIA operative)? As I noted before, anyone who has followed (or who now researches) Viveca Novak's career can reasonably conclude that she is a journalist of integrity and one of the better diggers in town. She has chased after the crooks and liars of Washington for years. As I reported on this blog and on my own blog, her role in the latest twist in the CIA leak scandal appears utterly inadvertent. Amato and anyone else craving answers to the significant questions of the leak scandal should focus their attention elsewhere.