August 18th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
5 years ago

Conservative columnist Novak dead at 78

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Conservative columnist and former CNN "Crossfire" co-host Robert Novak has died after a year-long battle with cancer, his family announced Tuesday. He was 78.

Novak died at home, just over a year after doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor in August 2008. He was a veteran columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a regular commentator for CNN for 25 years, beginning when the network launched in 1980.

For most of that time, he was a co-host of the political debate program "Crossfire." But he also hosted a show with his longtime column co-author, Rowland Evans, and appeared as a panelist on shows like "The Capital Gang" and on PBS' "The McLaughlin Group."

He was dubbed "The Prince of Darkness" by friends for his pessimistic persona, and he used the nickname as the title of his 2007 memoir.

Novak got his first newspaper job in 1948, when he was still in high school. He served in the Army during the Korean War before turning to the news business, eventually starting his column with Evans at the now-defunct New York Herald-Tribune in 1963.

In 2003, he found himself at the center of the scandal over the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, when he published a column revealing her CIA status days after her husband challenged a key Bush administration justification for the invasion of Iraq. The scandal ultimately led to the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators probing the leak.

Novak cooperated with a special prosecutor and was not charged in the case.


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soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I disagreed with Mr. Novak on most of his opiions but I admired his passion and persistance. I pray for the day when this terrible disease of cancer is a hting of the past. God Bless his soul and may God comfort those who are grieving.

    August 18, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. I give up

    novak and crossfire made me the conservative I am today. RIP.

    August 18, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. The Duke of Deception

    A great American, and a great reporter.

    Shook his hand and had a brief chat in an airport some years ago - a very pleasant man who enjoyed being recognized and complimented.

    August 18, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Wake Up

    Great reporter. He was what we use to have. A guy who did his homework, and didn't just shoot for cheap headlines.

    August 18, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. harold chance

    I always agreed with him.. He died too young... my age R I P
    Somsby

    August 18, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. a progressive liberal and proud of it

    While I didn't often agree with Mr. Novak's political views, I did respect him. He is a classic example of a man who could be true to his convictions while at the same time being respectful of other's convictions. A trait that is sadly missing these days on both sides of the aisle.

    August 18, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    His voice will be missed.....Rest in Peace

    August 18, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Bedtime for Obonzo

    RIP Bob.

    August 18, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. MomofFour

    RIP !

    August 18, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. martraco

    He now drinks from 'a fountain not made by the hands of man". RIP.

    August 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Dean

    I grew up watching Crossfire. He helped mold and shape my views about the world of politics in so may ways. He will be missed. I can only hope that there will another staunch conservative commentator to fill his shoes in the near future.

    August 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. BUGSY

    I always enjoyed watching crossfire, especially the exchanges he had with guests and other panel members. God rest his soul.

    August 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Dave

    I'll admit I wasn't a fan, but my condolences go out to his family, who I'm sure are feeling a great loss. Cancer is a horrible thing.

    August 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. JHL

    RIP. Let's not canonize him, but he had his moments in the sun.

    August 18, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    I didn't agree with his point of view or some of his behaviors, but wish him eternal rest. My thoughts and prayers to his family...

    August 18, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. G NO P

    Rest in peace Mr Novak. I am on the opposite side politcally, but would never wish cancer on anyone. He stated his views with integrity and conviction. My thoughts go to his family at this difficult time.

    August 18, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. moosehead

    Peaceful journey Mr. Novak,... i did not always agree with you,.. but i respected your integrity and convictions.

    August 18, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Joseph

    It's too bad so many of today's conservatives lack his communication skills. He was a respectful person and brought lively debate to the table.

    August 18, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Alan

    I knew Mr. Novak personally, and he was a kind, decent, and brilliant man. There will never be another like him...He was a Giant! Deepest condolences to the Novak family...

    August 18, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. HJA

    I did not agree with him many times but he had class. Always informed, never arrogant and always listened. He could face off with the best of them. Rest in peace. A true original, he will never be replaced.

    August 18, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Nadeem

    My Bob Novack Rest In Peice.

    Although i diagreed with him on many policy issues he made his arguments with logic and integrity. The public debate has lost a valueable contributor.

    August 18, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. steve shepherd

    I was a great fan and have missed his writing for the last several months. His book was a tour de force. Well worth the considerable time it took me to read it. I laughed at the end that even though the book ran 700+ pages, he cut it down from over 1,400. RIP

    August 18, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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