RIP, Robert Novak

August 18th, 2009 1:23 PM

The story of his passing is here. Brent Baker's tribute to this true exemplar of journalism is here.

Here, in my view, the most direct measure of the man: He never forgot those who worked with him (and I suspect that was the case for those who worked for him).

Proof: He and his partner Rowland Evans were responsible for the Evans-Novak Political Report until Evans died in 2001. Novak never renamed the newsletter.

Wikipedia says of Evans: "He was known best for his decades-long syndicated column and television partnership with Robert Novak, a partnership that endured, if only by way of a joint subscription newsletter, until Evans's death."

But Novak obviously didn't believe that the partnership dissolved when Evans died.

Though he was clearly sufficiently recognizable that he could have renamed the newsletter for himself, the newsletter's name remained the Evans-Novak Political Report until he wrote its final entry in January of this year:

Dear Reader,

As you may have read in the Evans-Novak Political Report, my recent health issues have forced me to give up active participation in the newsletter. Thankfully, my gifted deputy, Tim Carney, has ably filled the void for the past few months.

However, with the election and the inauguration behind us, and after much thought and deliberation with my publisher, we have decided that it is time to retire the Evans-Novak Political Report.

As you might imagine, this was an extremely difficult decision for me, and one I did not make lightly. It has been an honor to report on American politics for more than five decades, covering eight presidents, 23 Congressional elections and state and countless local elections and issues. I am grateful for your support of the Evans-Novak Political Report over the years, and wish you and your family all the best.

There's more at that final ENPR entry, written by the editors of Human Events:

In 1967, four years after Rowland Evans and Bob Novak joined forces for a six-times-a-week syndicated newspaper column, the two ace journalists launched a bi-weekly political newsletter with the name, the Evans-Novak Political Report.

While their column was built around unearthing news about those in power and those aspiring to power, Evans and Novak used their newsletter to analyze the political scene, note trends and shifts in the landscape, and forecast elections. While both writers had their own opinions on policies and politicians opinions they shared in columns and television appearances ENPR, in order to be useful to readers trying to understand the political scene, always aimed to set aside political prejudices.

From the start, ENPR succeeded in stirring up strife, landing Evans and Novak on Richard Nixon's enemies list when an early newsletter drew attention to the disconnect between the President's demeanor and the real troubles he faced.

Throughout ENPR's history, dozens of journalists working for or with Evans and Novak have contributed to the newsletter. It was the journalistic training ground of many young journalists including the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, and National Review Online's David Freddoso. I, too, served as a staff writer, from 2002 through 2004, before returning in 2006 as senior reporter and more recently as editor.

ENPR's reporters and editors dug into every potentially competitive U.S. House and Senate race, poked their noses around Capitol Hill, and burned up the phone lines to sources in federal agencies, campaigns, and parties all with the aim of providing our readers with the most complete analysis of the political scene.

ENPR was among the first covering each House and Senate race and sizing up all the candidates. Evans and Novak were pioneers in this field, and for an aspiring politician looking to get his name known, trotting into the Evans and Novak offices was the way to show up on the radar.

The reporting of Novak, and of Evans, embodied "fair and balanced" decades before Fox News appropriated the term to itself. It only appeared to lean right to some because the rest of the media routinely tilts so far to the left.

The fact that the establishment media hung the nickname "Prince of Darkness" on him -- a name he ultimately took on in good cheer -- says volumes more about them than it does about Novak.

May he rest in peace, and condolences to his family and friends.

Cross-posted at