The prince of darkness

Generally speaking, when I write about celebrity deaths in this space — and as regulars here know, I do that quite frequently — I attempt to find something positive to say about the decedent. Heck, I was even nice to William F. Buckley, a man with whom I would likely have disagreed about the benefits of oxygen.

Today, Robert Novak is dead.

I got nothing.

My path in life never crossed Novak’s, but I spent countless hours in his electronic presence by way of the many talk programs on which the archconservative commentator appeared. I can’t say how much of Novak’s on-camera persona was genuine and how much was an act, but by most accounts, he presented the same dour, bulldog face in everyday affairs that he showed on The McLaughlin Group or The Capital Gang. Novak seemed to be one of those jerky people who revel in their jerkiness, and in making other people feel small and uncomfortable.

I don’t find much laudable in people like that.

Although he broke numerous Washington stories over his lengthy career, Novak will be forever remembered as the journalist who, in a fit of politically motivated pique, broke the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Some considered that act tantamount to treason. I’m not sure I’d go quite that far — treason, like racism, is not an accusation to be hurled lightly — but it was without doubt a stupid and reprehensible act that lowered Novak even in the eyes of many conservatives who had previously lionized him.

For some of us, it simply proved that Novak was exactly what we’d always thought him to be. I’ll let you fill in that blank for yourself, loath as I am to speak ill of the newly departed.

Jon Friedman of MarketWatch expressed it as well as I could:

To me, [Novak] was, as a journalist, a shameful bully. He demonstrated the worst instincts of a professional pundit.

It was always an impression I had about him. I suspected that if the highly paranoid and divisive Richard Nixon had actually been a newspaperman, he would have resembled Novak.

Early in his career, a colleague hung the moniker “Prince of Darkness” on Novak, because of his aggressively pessimistic disposition. Novak enjoyed that image, and even used the nickname as the title of his 2007 autobiography.

Now it’s dark for sure.

Explore posts in the same categories: Celebritiana, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Ripped From the Headlines, Teleholics Anonymous, The Body Politic

5 Comments on “The prince of darkness”

  1. Bruce Sellnow Says:

    Whew! What a relief! From the tweet I thought we had lost Ozzie!


  2. SwanShadow Says:

    Bruce: The truth is, Ozzie died about 15 years ago.

    It’s just hard to tell. πŸ˜€

  3. […] age of 78, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with him shortly after his demise (And thanks to Swan Shadow for the […]

  4. Miss Britt Says:

    Wow. This was very interesting to read and well done.

    And ethical to the core, I think.

  5. SwanShadow Says:

    Britt: Thanks very much. Coming from you, that means a lot.

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