Robert David Sanders Novak, known as Bob Novak (1931-2009), was a longtime columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and television commentator who became a leading conservative voice in journalism. A convert from Judaism to Catholicism after he became a conservative, Novak was an insightful critic of liberal policies and an informed writer about politics in general, repeatedly having refused to leave any stone unturned in the pursuit of truth.
Novak died at the age of seventy-eight after a battle with brain cancer. He was a 1952 graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and member of Tau Delta Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He was a veteran of the Korean War, having risen to the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Novak was a movement conservative, providing strong intellectual reasons for his positions. Novak was a leading social and economic conservative in the media. At times, like colleague Pat Buchanan, he challenged what neoconservatives call "free trade" policies.
Novak, as the leading conservative reporter, is credited with inspiring many young conservative writers, such as David Freddoso and Timothy P. Carney, staff columnists at The Washington Examiner. Carney is also the author of the 2009 work Obamanomics, a critical account of the Barack H. Obama administration.
He is well known among the general public for several reasons:
- His publicizing the quote from a Democratic Senator (later revealed to be the late Thomas Eagleton of Missouri) that "people don’t know [Democratic presidential nominee George] McGovern is for amnesty, abortion, and acid." Based partly on this quote, which stuck to the candidate, McGovern lost in a landslide (ironically, after first picking Eagleton as his vice presidential candidate).
- His role in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak affair.
- His autobiography, Prince of Darkness: Fifty Years Reporting in Washington, which used his nickname "Prince of Darkness" for his sometimes pessimistic outlook.
- His frequent promotion of the merits of Whittaker Chambers's long autobiography, Witness, which espouses the anti-communist philosophy.
- As a long-time co-host of CNN's Crossfire and a former panelist on PBS's The McLaughlin Group.
After Novak's conversion to Catholicism, he changed his view on abortion, "When we started the column, Rowly and I were neutral on abortion, maybe leaning toward pro-choice. I began to read, think about it, and by the time I embraced Catholicism, I was adamantly against abortion. I'm happy that I moved in that direction."
Books by Robert Novak
- Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power, by Rowland Evans, Robert Novak, New American Library, New York, 1966.