CNN Suspends Novak After He Walks Off Set

The ever-cranky Bob Novak has been suspended by CNN after he swore at James Carville and then walked off the “Inside Politics” set yesterday.

CNN Suspends Novak After He Walks Off Set (AP)

Robert Novak, whose revelation of a CIA officer’s name in a 2003 column has sparked a federal probe, was suspended by CNN after he swore and walked off the set during a live taping of “Inside Politics.” CNN correspondent Ed Henry said afterward that he had been about to ask Novak about his role in the investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity, which the columnist has repeatedly refused to comment on.

The incident occurred Thursday as Novak and Democratic operative James Carville were handicapping the Senate candidacy of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Novak said the opposition of the Republican establishment in Florida might not be fatal for her.

“Let me just finish, James, please,” Novak continued. “I know you hate to hear me, but you have to.” Carville, addressing the camera, said: “He’s got to show these right wingers that he’s got a backbone, you know. It’s why The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show ’em that you’re tough.” “Well, I think that’s bull—- and I hate that,” Novak replied. “Just let it go.” As moderator Henry stepped in to ask Carville a question, Novak walked off the set.

A CNN spokeswoman, Edie Emery, called Novak’s behavior “inexcusable and unacceptable.” Novak apologized to CNN, and CNN was apologizing to viewers, she said. “We’ve asked Mr. Novak to take some time off,” she said.

The show was on the television monitors at work as I was waiting for the elevator. I missed the fireworks, however.

While Novak has never been among my favorite talking heads–he’s a much better columnist than television commentator–he’s usually quite professional. One imagines that the strain of the Plame affair, which has been going on over two years, is wearing on him. Plus, Carville does have a way of getting under people’s skin.

One presumes Novak will be back on the air soon. This incident is not especially egregious, especially in light of a half century of journalistic excellence.

Around the ‘sphere:

Update: It’s all over the papers, too:

Spelling error in original corrected.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Allan Guyton says:

    Wow. What a chilling, chilling example of the supression of free speech. Novak’s not allowed to speak his mind and call BS just because he’s a CNN employee?

    This is just like the Slimfast episode last year.

    First Whoopi, now Bob Novak. When the Bushitler McFascists came for Whoopi, I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a loud-mouthed black woman. Then they came for Novak, and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a crotchety old columnist. Where does it end?

    It’s like the terrorists have already won, man.

  2. Charlie (Colorado) says:


  3. Anderson says:

    Watch the video. Novak’s outburst came out of left field.

    Either he was faking because he wanted to get out of there (but then why swear?), or he’s really, really, really stressed out these days.

  4. I’ve thought for a while that Novak might need to go into semi-retirement.

  5. bryan says:

    The man is obviously tired of people dragging him through the mud over the Plame affair, and Carville is just enough of a smarmy little pug that he made him snap.

    Novak needs a breather.

    I can’t say I agree with Malkin. Novak is hardly a “public figure” in the sense that he’s run for office. There are much more public figures in Hollywood who say that much in every movie.

  6. Bithead says:

    Apparently nobody remembers Carville doing the same thing a few years ago.

    Funny, how this works.

    And frankly, I’m amazed Novak didn’t do this years ago; he’s certainly put up with enough abuse over the years from snake head and company.