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Web Letter

While it is, in the interest of historical criticism, permissible to write nasty things of the dead, to slander the deceased isn't very sporting.

I refer to Mr. Alterman's description of the CNN incident, which ended Mr. Novak's career there, because it was in no way like what Mr. Alterman describes. Mr. Novak swore and left the set after James Carville repeatedly and childishly asserted that Mr. Novak was "just trying to show his right-wing friends he has some backbone." The topic under discussion was the Florida race for US Senate and the possibilities of Katherine Harris challenging Bill Nelson. Mr. Novak was attempting to analyze the race, while Carville was buffoonishly interrupting and looking for laughs at Mr. Novak's expense, and taking the conversation off topic. Ed Henry could have been taking a nap. This followed many years of CNN's futile quest to find a journalist who could hold his own with Novak (just ask Michael Kinsley or Al Hunt) and ultimately led to its employment of Begala and Carville; apparently, Mr. Alterman was not a candidate.

Following Mr. Novak's departure from the set, Ed Henry announced he had planned to ask Mr. Novak about the Plame story, no big deal there, Novak had handled those questions many times by then, and Bob Novak had certainly handled lots of journalists tougher than Ed Henry. Why Mr. Henry sought to enhance himself with with the audience, who knows.

I mention these things without reference to Mr. Novak's version of events, which I saw him discuss during his Prince of Darkness book tour, a title that reflects his capacity for writing true things. His column "My Brain Tumor," which can still be accessed through the Drudge Report, in which Mr. Novak mentions his friendships with Bob Shrum and Al Hunt, and the kindness of Ted and Vicki Kennedy in referring him to their doctors, is truly wonderful. Mr. Alterman doesn't seem to get it.

Thomas J. Conway Jr.

Atco, NJ

Sep 3 2009 - 8:54am

Web Letter

Having interviewed Eric Alterman over the telephone a few times when I was a reporter at the Washington Times, I'm a bit surprised at his lack of charity here. He is usually more balanced than this. My recollection of Novak differs significantly.

In my experience, Novak was stubborn about his opinions, but no less stubborn than Alterman or anyone else working in the national media. Alterman just happens to come at the world from a different political angle than he did. On the whole, I found Novak more gracious than many pundits, and I will gladly recognize him for it.

Sean Salai, SJ

Chicago, IL

Aug 29 2009 - 11:30am

Web Letter

What an excellent article by Mr. Alterman on the mercifully late Mr. Novak--with which I am in complete agreement. No puff piece here--Mr. Alterman expressed his opinion succinctly, clearly and in his usual well-written manner. Robert Novak was a shameless self-promoter, a joke as a journalist and a thoroughly unpleasant man whose "charm" eluded me as deftly as it did Mr. Alterman. I for one am relieved to see the end of him. His behavior regarding Valerie Plame was unforgivable--a harsher critic than I might say his intent was murderous. It certainly seemed that way. Goodbye and good riddance.

Gail Moore

San Francisco, CA

Aug 29 2009 - 11:12am

Web Letter

Robert Novak was an Eastern establishment pig who is currently burning in hell.

Scott Williams

Kernville, CA

Aug 28 2009 - 9:22pm

Web Letter

Eric Alterman would like to "do [Robert Novak] the honor" of taking him seriously? I can only imagine that either Mr. Alterman is being sarcastic or has lost touch with reality.

Robert Novak was a disgrace to his profession and a traitor to his nation, and the list of his crimes goes far beyond the few mentioned in this article. Mr. Novak's smarmy smile, which seemed to say, "I know this is criminal but you can't touch me," is a dead ringer for that of former VP Dick Cheney.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say; he'll get no honors from me.

Paul B. Gallagher

Horsham, PA

Aug 27 2009 - 7:15pm