08/08/2005: Gem o'the Day:
DCMediaGirl--a gal on the go, a gal in the know--posts about Robert Novak's senior moment. She wonders, as do we all, why his slimeball behavior was tolerated for so long. It wasn't as if his on-air cussword was out of character.
"The real issue, of course, is that Novak has a long history of bullying and abusing lower-level employees, whom he terrorizes with his angry outbursts over such vital areas of newsgathering as how to pop his popcorn just so, or like when he reduced a former colleague of mine to tears when he asked here how many Jews her family had transported to the death camps (this woman was of German ancestry)."
This to me is the psychological puzzler regarding Novak's personality and career--or rather, the coddling of that career by his colleagues. Amy Sullivan did an outstanding job describing in forensic detail the size and scope of Novak's bulletproof protective bubble for The Washington Monthly--how none of the laws that apply to others ever seem applied to him--but she didn't get to the "why" of it, and I can't either.
Here's what puzzles me. You often have some awful TV pundit/personality being excused or defended by associates because off-camera he/she is affable, thoughtful, and menschy--nothing like the on-camera dragon persona. This is often said about Pat Buchanan, for example, and maybe it's true, who knows, who cares. I've read something of the same in the press about Novak, that he can be quite generous to younger journalists, but I've also heard stories for years about what a sadist he is, not a whips-chains sadist but a vicious verbal bully. And the stories I heard go back aways--it wasn't that TV exposure turned him into a nasty ego monster, he was that way from the outset, according to what I heard.
So he doesn't seem to be one of those guys who was one thing on the air and another thing off. He wasn't one of those guys who once-you-got-to-know-him you liked despite yourself. People I knew who had experiences with him said he was a person who, once you got to know him, you wish you hadn't.
Hat tip to Karen, who cited the link to Wolcott as a source for her post.
Len on 08.08.05 @ 10:08 AM CST