August 5, 2005


Novak Apologizes for Swearing, Walking Out (DAVID BAUDER, 8/05/05, AP)

Robert Novak apologized Friday for swearing on the air and walking off a CNN set, but said it had nothing to do with the federal probe sparked by his revelation of a CIA officer's name in a 2003 column.

"I apologize for my conduct and I'm sorry I did it," he said in an interview.

CNN has pulled him off the air indefinitely. Novak said "I'll follow their guidance" on when he returns.

He ought to have the decency to resign after swearing on-air.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2005 5:46 PM

He didn't swear. He just accurately, if a bit crudely, described what Carville produces. If Novak is going to issue apologies, it should be for being well paid in aiding and abetting Carville in his production all that bovine fecal excretion all these years.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 5, 2005 6:26 PM

Conservatives have to meet higher standards--swearing on tv doesn't meet them.

Posted by: oj at August 5, 2005 6:30 PM

Should the President resign for giving the press the finger the other day? Conservatives have to meet higher standards?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 5, 2005 8:35 PM


In what culture is that swearing?

Posted by: oj at August 5, 2005 8:53 PM

he gave the thumbs up. comrade, you aren't dealing the mindless cadres here. save the lies for the local party chapter meeting.

Posted by: cjm at August 5, 2005 9:01 PM


Because it was a thumbs up indicating that CAFTA would pass it is the same as a profanity to a protectionist like Rick.

Posted by: oj at August 5, 2005 9:10 PM

Jeez, if we're going to bitch about the president flipping someone off let's at least save our outrage for an instance of him actually doing it.

To review: the president's opponents promise something but fail to deliver while I, a conservative, am able to produce something useful. Just like in real life.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 5, 2005 10:10 PM


Pathetic. Is that what passes for wit on those liberal moonbat websites?

Posted by: erp at August 5, 2005 10:12 PM

Mr. Perlstein:

For a journalist who seems to read blogs, you should have known this was fake.

The only 'major' politician in America with the neurological problems to give the press the bird is probably Howard Dean (followed by Cynthia McKinney).

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 5, 2005 10:44 PM

By the way, here's a video of Novak losing it.

The funny thing is to watch the interviewer; Novak exclaims "That's [b.s.]!" and the guy asking him the questions doesn't even skip a beat. Carville just laughs, because he's been baiting Novak for the last few years and he knows that he's finally gotten him.

I sympathize with Novak -- going up against a rude political thug like Serpenthead on a daily basis would make anyone loony -- but you can't cuss on live TV and he will have to pay.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 5, 2005 11:01 PM

Friends, this is available in a direct feed. It's not fake. I can't believe you fall for the White House spin. I suppose you also don't think the president called a New York Times reporter a "major league a------e" on an open mike. Or that there are other instances on film of Bush giving the finger. Our president has flaws. One of them is that he tends to behave like a drunken fratboy. Deal wiht it.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 6, 2005 12:00 AM

Mark Shields dropped the BS word on "Capital Gang" a few years ago while responding to a comment by Novak. No suspension, just an on-air apology after the fact by Mark for the errant remark.

Posted by: John at August 6, 2005 12:57 AM

I have no doubt of what Bush said about Adam Clymer - and Clymer deserved it (as his subsequent "work" has proved). But you are grasping the wind on this one. If you want to be compared to Helen Thomas, go right ahead.

What you don't realize is that probably 70% of the country would cheer if Bush said to David Gregory or Terry Moran to "can't you do better than that?" after asking him another chum bait question at a press conference. Bush's father was never more popular than when he body-slammed Dan Rather. Even Nixon got boosts when he (successfully) fenced with the press.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 6, 2005 1:19 AM

So, in contrast to Orrin Judd, you argue that conservatives should be held to a lower standard.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 6, 2005 1:28 AM

Rick Perlstein:

You link to a video from a left-wing website where even many of the raving denizens say they believe it was his thumb, and where the guy who runs the website posts testimony from people who were there saying the president did not flip anybody off. Even Keith Olbermann -- who hates Republicans and once compared Ken Starr to Goebbels -- says the opinion from reporters on the scene was "unanimous" that he was giving a thumbs-up.

And sorry, we're Cro-Magnon conservatives here at BroJudd and the "corporate media covering for Bush" line will crash on the runway if you attempt takeoff.

I don't want to offer your side too much help so I'll only say this once: if you guys want to win elections, you must get a grip. Yesterday.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 1:41 AM

Rick: Looks pretty clearly like his thumb to me. You can see the line of the thumb breaking the line of his clenched fist.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 6, 2005 1:49 AM

No - Novak was wrong (and so was candidate Bush, 5 years ago), but did Kerry get any criticism (from anyone in the MSM) for being quoted in "Rolling Stone" when he said this (administration) has f***ed things up worse than any other? I never saw it. Maybe the press thought it was just butching up on Kerry's part, but Bush was criticized more for grabbing his Secret Service agent out of the mosh pit in Chile than Kerry was for using the f-bomb specifically against a sitting President.

The point is that no Republican is ever going to 'win' this kind of a tussle (even if the public cheers). Imagine a press conference where a President says - "Give me a minute to help you ask a better question on that issue". If Bush does it, he will be mocked and blasted from the 5:00 news to the Daily Show. If Clinton does it, he will be lauded as a wise leader giving a thoughtful moment to the media.

Not that Bush (or we conservatives) expect any better, but there you have it. And if Carville had told Novak he was a back-stabbing sh**-faced goon for putting Judith Miller in jail, CNN probably would not have suspended him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 6, 2005 1:51 AM

And, Rick, thanks for the link to that site. Wow.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 6, 2005 2:04 AM

David Cohen:

I also thought I saw his fingers coiled in a fist as he lowered his hand from the "thumbs-up."

If he really raised his middle finger, plenty of people in the press would have clearly seen it and would have corroborated the story. It would have been non-stop news for days.

One wonders what next week's plan to get Bush will be.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:06 AM

Perhaps this will help clear things up.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:25 AM

A more interesting question would be whether this picture is doctored.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:35 AM


Of course he swears like a sailor, who doesn't?

But you don't do such things on-air.

When you have kids you'll struggle with coontrolling your potty mouth, but you'll make it.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 8:56 AM


If any of the videos on-line have audio, he raised the thumb in answer to whether CAFTA was going to pass.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 9:15 AM


Kerry didn't do it on live television.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 9:16 AM

His comment about Clymer was a private aside.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 9:18 AM

that second photo (by matt) has been doctored and is a known fake.

i would be ashamed to behave as perlstein has, and as most leftists do. when you have kids you learn to recognize childish behavior, and perlstein comes across to me as an angry 13 year old. how much of this short life are you going to throw away ?

Posted by: cjm at August 6, 2005 9:52 AM

Let's not forget the time then VP Nelson Rockefeller flipped someone off (a heckler?). A very clear photo of that appeared in many papers. I remember because I clipped and displayed one on my dorm room door. To sieze on a single photo to prove something exists that no one but a true believer can see is simply pathetic.

As for higher standards, of course Conservatives are held to them. You can't be held to standards if, like the Leftists, you don't have any. But my objection to Novak and people like him who appear on these mud wrestiing shows is that they agree to be well paid to appear on them knowing they will be held to a higher standard, and in doing so, condone the lowering of standards in general. Novak deserves the abuse he knows he will be geting from the likes of Carville, and if he doesn't like it, he shouldn't be re-signing the appearance contracts. But we shouldn't be castigating him for one word, but for the years leading up to that word.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 6, 2005 11:30 AM

What is troubling about Perlstein here is that we often see professional journalists deride blogs, yet responsible bloggers frequently correct themselves (and quickly!) when errors are brought to their attention.

On the other hand, ideologues cling to the notion of error as fact, even when error is demonstrated. Mr. Perlstein's error has been demonstrated.

So, Mr. Perlstein, are you a professional journalist or an ideologue?

Or, is it the case (as many contend) that there's just not always a distinction between the two these days?

Posted by: kevin whited at August 6, 2005 11:32 AM

It's a thumb, Rick, although I can see how one could imagine it wasn't. Look at Matt's line-filtering again carefully and try both gestures yourself and compare.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 6, 2005 12:40 PM


Just as I suspected. Thanks.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 2:43 PM

Wow. I hit a nerve. Matt's image, to me, looks like he's giving the finger--and of course he's done it before.

It's no big deal. I'm not outraged by it. I'm just outraged by the fantasy that Bush is some kind of saint. At least Orrin has had the good sense to move the goal line and admit that he isn't. Though, of course, he's behaved like this in public before as well.

Bizarre to make a federal case out of this tiny discussion that eight of us are going to read, in any event. I'm just amazed at the lengths it takes to get some of you to admit the president has any flaws.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 6, 2005 2:49 PM


Conveniently, none of them have audio -- that would clear things up too easily.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 2:58 PM

Look. He's an SOB. Anyone who makes it to that level of the game is--whether it's GWB, LBJ, or Jack Welch. That seems to me to be so obvious as to be trivial. We're grownups, and we don't need fainting couches.

That an extraodinarily competitive person is susceptible to outrageous actions--
--is not news. The presence of a mass delusion that our president is not capable of such things IS news.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 6, 2005 3:01 PM

Matt finds it dispositive that many of the "raving denizens" of the left-wing site that hosted the video think it's a thumb. I just read that thread and found a spirited, reasonable debate with no consensus drawn; clearly this is something on which careful people differ. Which I accept. Then the raving denizen comes in, and opines: "It's not his thum or his middle finger, it's his index finger you god damn dumb liberals." Spirited, reasonable debate--which is what was going on on that thread--was something that the one right-winger who irrupted into the fray could not accept.

I'm taking a nap now. It'll be interesting to see what shows up when I return. You guys are the bestest!

Posted by: at August 6, 2005 3:07 PM

Rick Perlstein:

Looks to me like a thumb. To about 75% of the folks at the lefty website it looks like a thumb (to the great consternation of many of them). To all the assembled reporters, it looks like a thumb.

Come off it. You're wrong. I'm sure you have a long list of other complaints to make about Bush. Move on.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:08 PM


Yes, we have nuts on both sides.

Look again, significantly more than half of those posts say it's a thumb (a few say it's an index finger) and I think something like 3/4ths believe it's something other than a middle finger.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:26 PM

Rick Perlstein:

By most everyone's reckoning, Reagan was a gentleman.

Wrong, what's news is this persistent left-wing belief that conservatives believe Bush walks on water. Put aside for a moment all the criticism he gets from conservatives convinced he's sold them out (Reagan got this too). You expect us to revise our opinion that Bush is basically a good man because he got a bit rough with an sports opponent while in college? In a rugby game?

Sorry, no sale.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 3:33 PM

Rick: How can we play the game if you keep moving the goalposts?

I agree with you, and have said here a couple of times, that my impression is that the president is not a particularly nice guy, and is a pain to work for. I agree with you that as a general rule we're not going to get milktoast go-along-to-get-along types as president. The quasi-prigishness of this argument is hilarious. All that having been said, a partisan push is going to get a partisan pushback.

And it really is a thumb.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 6, 2005 3:57 PM

As OJ comments in another post. William F. Buckley was 30 years ahead of his time (real media file) 1968 Democratic Convention.

Posted by: h-man at August 6, 2005 5:18 PM


Lance Morrow once asked WFB if he'd ever met someone he considered to be evil, and he replied "Gore Vidal." There's some bad blood between those two.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 6, 2005 5:32 PM


What are you talking about? No one denies he's a tough s.o.b. nor that he has only contempt for the press. That's separable from the question of whether he swears at them on-air or hoisted his thumb in answer to a yes/no question, isn't it?

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 6:16 PM


I hadn't even realized the Perlstieniacs had cooked up this strange story but I remember that Fox News showed the film clip the day it happened to show he was predicting CAFTA was home free.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 6:17 PM


I think it's Richard Ben Cramer who tells the story of asking what W and his Dad talk about and W answering: "Just like any Father and son, we talk about pussy." That's not actually something I've ever discussed with my Dad nor would I with my son. Long as they do so privately and not on Television it doesn't much bother me though.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 6:20 PM

The Bush family is a weird family.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 6, 2005 7:02 PM

David Cohen:

How could they not be ?

Like the English Royal Family, they're a bit twisted by constant scrutiny and longtime access to the levers of power.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 6, 2005 7:59 PM

Every family is weird.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2005 8:19 PM


Or, the alternative explanation of Bush's odd comment: He realized even at that early date how much fun it was to play mind games with the press.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 7, 2005 12:21 AM


No, he and Cramer liked one another and W was still somewhat at loose ends then. That was the campaign where he started to grow up.

Posted by: oj at August 7, 2005 12:29 AM