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Bob Novak was a conservative TV talk show personality, most famously appearing on CNN's often-explosive Crossfire.
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Born in Joliet, Illinois, on February 26, 1931, Bob Novak was tapped in 1963 to write a Herald-Tribune column, "Inside Report," which would four years later evolve into the syndicated "Evans-Novak Political Report," which ran for more than three decades. He later became a staple on the left-versus-right shoutfest Crossfire. Novak left CNN in 2005 to become a commentator on Fox.
"The word 'leaker' has an ignominious ring. It connotes giving you something you shouldn't have. I think I should have everything."
"I have had so much fun in my life."
Born Robert David Sanders Novak on February 26, 1931, in Joliet, Illinois, Bob Novak was the only child of Jewish parents, his father a chemical engineer employed by the city gas company and his mother a doting homemaker who encouraged his ambition. "My mother always gave me the impression I was going to be something successful in the world," Novak said. "A person with a mother like that ends up with a great deal of confidence, which is a good thing to have if you're going to be the kind of journalist I was."
Novak cut his teeth as a reporter at his high school newspaper before moving on to the University of Illinois. He dropped out of college one semester before graduating to serve stateside in the United States Army during the Korean War. After leaving the service, Novak worked as an Associated Press reporter in Omaha, Indianapolis and finally Washington, D.C., the city where he would eventually become a journalistic fixture. In 1958, Novak went to work for the Wall Street Journal, where he developed a reputation as an intensely driven political reporter. After a brief first marriage, Novak married Geraldine Williams, a secretary for Texas Senator (and future U.S. President) Lyndon B. Johnson, who threw their reception. The couple had two children, Zelda and Alexander.
In 1963, Novak was tapped by Rowland Evans, the Washington correspondent for the New York Herald-Tribune, to co-author a political column. That Herald-Tribune column, called "Inside Report," would evolve four years later into the syndicated Evans-Novak Political Report, which ran for more than three decades, becoming a Washington must-read. At one point, the column ran in 300 newspapers. As humorist Art Buchwald described the duo, "Novak is the guy who hits you over the head with the truncheon. And Evans is the guy who offers you a cigarette." Novak continued to write the column on his own after Evans' retirement and 2001 death.
Evans and Novak, both of whom leaned to the right politically, were frequently accused by liberals of serving as mouthpieces for the Republican party. Though he certainly held conservative views, there was more to Novak's style than simple propaganda, said Al Hunt, a longtime friend and Washington executive editor of Bloomberg News: "He was the 'reverse' Washington. If you were riding high, Novak loved to kick you. And if you were down, he'd be there for you." Novak cultivated an air of acid skepticism bordering on cynicism, once complaining that the sight of homeless people on the news ruined his Thanksgiving.
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