Bob Novak Remembered as ‘Extraordinary,’ ‘Dedicated,’ ‘Courageous’ Reporter

By Matt Cover | August 19, 2009 | 6:05 PM EDT

Robert D. Novak, 1931 – 2009

( – Venerable Washington journalist Robert Novak, who died Tuesday at age 78, was remembered by friends and colleagues as a passionate and dedicated journalistic pioneer committed to both facts and faith.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see another journalist like Bob Novak,” Novak’s godmother and friend Kate O’Bierne told She cited specifically, “the length of his career, how he dominated political journalism, both in print and with the advent of TV punditry on TV.”
O’Bierne remarked that Novak occupied the pinnacle of his profession for decades, which she attributed to both his prodigious talent and extraordinary work ethic.
“He performed, you know, at the very top of his profession for decades. We’ll never see that again,” she said. “Owing to the fact that he was extremely talented, extraordinarily hard-working, incredibly well-informed, always curious, so he had the raw talent, the work ethic to be unique in political journalism.
“So we won’t see anybody like him again,” she said.
Longtime colleague M. Stanton Evans said that Novak was a true reporter, one who never stopped digging and never stopped reporting.
“He was not a pundit, he wasn’t just sitting back and issuing opinions – he was a reporter,” said Evans. “And he never stopped being a reporter for all of his many, many years in the business.”
Evans, who first met Novak in 1960, said that Novak’s legacy was his dedication to the facts, to eschewing opinionating and telling people something that they did not know, but should.
“I first met him in 1960, during the Kennedy-Nixon [presidential] campaign,” said Evans. “Then I purchased his column when I was the editor of a paper in Indiana precisely because he always had facts in it, information.”
“That was the relationship I had with him,” said Evans. “It was a professional relationship based on the notion of hard digging, reporting, not sitting back and pontificating. That’s what Bob Novak represented. That’s what he was all about, reporting, first, last, and always.”
Ron Robinson, president of the conservative Young America’s Foundation and who served on the board of the Phillips Foundation with Novak, said that what he remembered was Novak’s dedication to educating and inspiring young people, noting how Novak always made room in his busy schedule to speak at YAF’s annual conferences.
“It’s a tough loss for our movement,” Robinson said. “I don’t know anyone that I have worked with that was more conscientious in reaching young people and passing on his ideas than Bob was.
“He never missed a single engagement for Young America’s Foundation in nearly 20 years, which is unprecedented,” said Robinson. “Usually something will come up over the course of a lifetime, sometimes a scheduling conflict [but] he would always cancel everything else he was doing to meet with young people.”
Novak friend, GOP strategist, and president of CRC Public Relations, Greg Mueller said that Novak was a “journalist’s journalist” who epitomized what reporting was all about, earning him rare, bipartisan respect and admiration.
“Bob Novak was the epitome of a fair and honest journalist.” Mueller told “He was a journalist’s journalist. He chronicled more history through his years as a reporter and columnist than any journalist in America. While he was nicknamed the Prince of Darkness, there was nothing ‘dark’ about Bob – he was a true gentlemen and a truly decent, caring man.”
Mueller said that, above all, Novak was a loyal friend to all who knew him.
“He had as many Democrat sources and friends as he had Republicans,” said Mueller. “While many of us who knew him well will miss his cutting, breaking news columns each week, and those truly wonderful visits to his office, what we will miss most is the presence and dedication of a good and loyal friend.”
Rev. John McCloskey, the Catholic priest who helped shepherd Novak toward his conversion to Christianity, remembered him as a man of deep faith who never shied away from his religious commitment.
“Robert Novak was a man of deep practical faith after his conversion and bore public witness to it on many occasions in his public life,” said McCloskey. “In addition, he was very generous in his works of the corporal works of mercy. I pray that God will reward him.”
Tom Phillips, president of Eagle Publishing, is a longtime friend of Bob Novak’s and publisher of the Evans-Novak Political Report for more then 20 years.
In a statement released Wednesday, Phillips said: “Bob was the epitome of a great American journalist. He was tough but fair, and relentless in going after a story. Although Bob was a strong conservative, he never let his politics influence his journalism. He earned the respect of politicians on both sides of the aisle for his even-handed reporting and legendary scoops.
“No secret in official Washington was safe from Bob Novak,” said Phillips. “He pursued stories the old-fashioned way, through tireless reporting and cultivation of sources. … Bob was not only a great journalist. He was also a true patriot and a wonderful family man. While Bob will be missed as a lion of journalism, his loss is felt most deeply by his family and friends.”