Robert Novak’s Last Interview by Gregory Hilton

Bob Novak died today. He was against the Iraq war and I obviously did not share his opinions regarding the Middle East, but he was an expert on U.S. politics. His column “Evans and Novak” was well regarded for original reporting, but critics often called it “Errors and No Facts!”
This is from one of his last interviews. “Well, nobody wants to die. I certainly don’t. But all Christian faiths hold that there’s an afterlife, that we are not just dust to dust. And that’s comforting, particularly now that I have an illness and there’s very little chance I will recover. A priest who visited me told me I’ve been given a chance to prepare myself.”
“So I began to think about my life and what I’ve done right and not done right and to prepare myself for the last days. I’ve found that reassuring.” Novak told “Washingtonian” that he was a workaholic but he had a lot of fun in his career. Like many people with power jobs his regret was not spending more time with his children.
Novak was also asked about covering Capitol Hill in the 1950s. “You were a quasi-regular at the after-hours soirees Senator Everett Dirksen used to hold in his office. Can you imagine a reporter being included in a gathering like that today?”
NOVAK “No. The relationship between the press and politicians was far different. When Trent Lott read about Dirksen in my autobiography, he was flabbergasted. I am not even 100 percent sure he believed me, he was so astounded that a Senate Republican leader would invite a reporter to a closed gathering like that.”
The details of the above incident are in his book, “The Prince of Darkness.” Novak was of course correct about the major change in media coverage. For example, reporters had information about JFK’s womanizing in 1960 but no one would print a story like that. Things are far different in this era of intense scrutiny.
The Washington Post made this observation: “Novak wrote in his autobiography that he rarely disliked those with whom he appeared combative — one significant exception was Jimmy Carter, whom the columnist called a populist demagogue and ‘habitual liar.’ On one episode of “Face the Nation,” Novak insisted that Carter reveal which members of the diplomatic corps he objected to as “fat, bloated, ignorant” and unqualified except for being Nixon financiers.
Carter declined to answer, and Novak persisted: “Can you name one, though? You make the accusation all over the place. There are only four ambassadors who made contributions to Nixon. Do any of them that fit that category?

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