Monday, August 18, 2014

Remembering Bob Novak

By Tim Carney

Bob Novak hired me away from HUMAN EVENTS in late 2001. “Poaching,” HE Editor-in-Chief Tom Winter called it. I was not the first early-20s reporter Novak would pluck from HE’s newsroom. Nor would I be the last.

Work for us Novak reporters, in addition to writing the Evans-Novak Political Report, consisted of doing “the opposite of research,” as I put it. Rather than trying to find an answer to a question Novak had — he had another staffer for that — we would try to dig up scoops, leads, and unreported nuggets to feed him.

That Novak would hire a leg-man to go around Washington sniffing out news reflected the virtue at the heart of his work: His columns, while they resided on the op-ed pages, were built upon previously unreported facts that revealed and explained the machinations of government, the men and women in power, and the politics behind it all. His job demanded he get a constant flow of new information, but curiosity and a thirst for knowledge were natural traits for him.

Bob Novak was, above all, a reporter.

Watching him work was a delightful education in reporting.

In 2004, I was chatting with Novak at a conservative dinner at the Willard Intercontinental in downtown D.C. when Ralph Reed approached. Novak greeted Reed, introduced me, and began trading pleasantries, but within one minute the conversation had somehow become an on-background interview — I noticed this, but I’m not sure Reed did, because of the subtlety with which Novak deflected any questions back at Reed and steered the conversation away from himself.

It was a remarkable trait to find in a professional pundit so successful and so opinionated: Novak might have been the best listener I’ve ever known.

Read the rest here.

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