Monday, July 28, 2008

Pray for 'The Prince of Darkness'

Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. He's survived cancer before, but after his accident last week, his doctors apparently decided to do a CT scan. Novak, one of America's finest investigative reporters, is 77.

Early on in his career, Novak's saturnine appearance earned him the "Prince of Darkness" sobriquet. His longtime column partner, Rowland Evans, was a patrician WASP known and loved by Washington insiders, and so it was generally suspected (not altogether unfairly) that Novak was the troublemaker whose inside scoops caused so much embarrassment for the Establishment.

Novak's 2007 memoir is full of fascinating never-before-revealed tidbits about how he got his biggest scoops during his 50-year career as a newsman, including the scoop about Joe Wilson's wife that became the "Plamegate" controversy. Although a staunch conservative who's never made any pretense of "neutrality," Novak is first and foremost a newsman who values a fact-filled scoop over any partisan or ideological loyalty. (His reporting has made him plenty of Republican enemies over the years.)

Prince of Darkness is not only an amazing inside look at the business of journalism, it's an important historical chronicle of our time. I recommend it without hesitation.

UPDATE: You stay classy, HuffPo!

UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey notes still more classiness from the tolerant and enlightened progressives at Democratic Underground.

UPDATE III: Michelle Malkin pays tribute:
Novak has had a huge influence on my career. During a college conservative journalists’ confab, he urged us to seek metro newspaper jobs, pay our dues, and try to stay out of Washington for as long as possible. I took the advice to heart and left D.C. after a year as an intern at NBC to take my first newspaper job at the L.A. Daily News and then the Seattle Times.
This is something overlooked by many young conservatives who seek to emulate Malkin (and Ann Coulter, too). Because of their youthful good looks, some of their admirers imagine that these two ladies came right out of college as conservative superstars. But as she mentions, Malkin spent seven years working for Left Coast newspapers before becoming nationally syndicated in 1999, and was a 31-year-old married mom when she published her first book, Invasion, in 2002.

Coulter spent even longer as a relative unknown -- first as a New York lawyer and then as a Senate staffer -- and didn't publish her first book until she was 34. It is far too common nowadays to meet ambitious young conservative writers who obviously want to be "the next Malkin" or "the next Coulter," but who don't want to pay their dues, and seem disappointed that fame hasn't found them by the time they turn 25.

Malkin also notes as "typical" the Associated Press's superficial "summary" of Novak's career. I would urge anyone who thinks Novak is just another right-wing pundit to read Prince of Darkness and learn the truth.

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