Novak Attack, Off by a Mile

Trying to dodge criticism for his role in outing Valerie Plame, columnist Bob Novak last night attacked a National Journal story by Murray Waas on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes. “I know that the Murray Waas piece in the National Journal, which interestingly was not picked up by anybody, was totally wrong and a total lie,” he said.

As Novak — a seasoned journalist and opinionator — surely knows all too well, it’s dangerous to throw around accusations like “totally wrong” and “a total lie,” particularly in sentences in which oneself is totally wrong. (Which he’d have known, if he read TPMmuckraker.)

In truth, two major news outlets confirmed the National Journal story the same day it was published, May 25.

Here’s MSNBC confirming Waas’ story:

[S]ources close to [Karl Rove] are now confirming a story first reported in the National Journal that Rove, who was a source for columnist Bob Novak, later had a separate conversation with Novak after the investigation began.

Former federal prosecutors are convinced Fitzgerald has explored whether Rove and Novak coordinated their testimony.

And here’s Bloomberg confirming Waas’ story with its own sources, on the same day:

Syndicated columnist Robert Novak assured presidential adviser Karl Rove that he wouldn’t identify him to prosecutors investigating the disclosure of a CIA agent’s name, a person familiar with the matter said.

Rove told a grand jury that Novak called him shortly after the Central Intelligence Agency asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of operative Valerie Plame to Novak and other reporters, the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. Novak revealed Plame’s name in a July 14, 2003, column, citing unnamed administration officials.

The National Journal, which reported earlier today on the Sept. 29, 2003, conversation between Rove and Novak, said Justice Department prosecutors were concerned that Rove and Novak may have been working on a cover story to protect Rove.

The story is particularly damaging to Novak because it raised concerns that Novak and Rove coordinated their grand jury testimony, even possibly developing a “cover story” for themselves. At the very least, the conversation was inadvisable and unethical — and, if a false story was concocted, against the law.

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