August 4, 2005

CNN suspends Robert Novak for on-air outburst

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CNN issued a public rebuke to
syndicated columnist and political analyst Robert Novak and
asked him to "take some time off" after he uttered a profanity
and walked off the set during a live broadcast on Thursday.

The on-air outburst by Novak, 74, came when the
conservative commentator was interrupted by liberal political
strategist James Carville during a discussion of the upcoming
U.S. Senate race in Florida on CNN's "Inside Politics" show.

"Let me finish what I was going to say, James, please. I
know you hate to hear me," Novak said as he and Carville
jousted over the Senate election chances of Republican U.S.
Rep. Katherine Harris.

Carville persisted, saying: "You got to show those
right-wingers that he's got backbone. ... the Wall Street
Journal editorial page is watching. Show 'em you're tough."

An angry Novak shot back, "I think that's bullshit, and I
hate that." Then to the show's host, Ed Henry, he added, "Just
let it go," before standing up from his seat, unclipping his
microphone and walking off the set.

Carville and Henry continued the discussion without
pausing, but Henry acknowledged Novak's departure at the end of
the hour, saying he was sorry "Bob Novak left the set a little

CNN, a unit of Time Warner Inc., later issued a statement
chiding Novak for his conduct.

"Bob Novak's behavior on CNN today was inexcusable and
unacceptable," the network said. "Mr. Novak has apologized to
CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and
actions. We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off."

Novak has been the subject of intense media interest for
months as a central figure in a political scandal involving the
public disclosure of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity and
investigations of that leak.

Federal investigators are looking into who leaked the
identity of the covert agent, whose name appeared in a July 14,
2003 newspaper column by Novak.

Henry told viewers he had informed Novak in advance of
Thursday's show that he intended to ask him on the air about
his role in the Plame affair but missed the opportunity when
Novak walked off.

A publicist for Novak at CNN said the veteran columnist had
no additional comment.

Novak has been a regular CNN contributor since his days as
a conservative commentator on the public affairs show
"Crossfire." His newspaper column is syndicated nationally.