Citing 'Dire' Prognosis, Novak Retires Immediately

Conservative political commentator Robert Novak has announced his immediate retirement after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; Page C03

Columnist Robert D. Novak is retiring immediately because of a dim prognosis in his battle against a brain tumor.

Novak, 77, a conservative Chicago Sun-Times political commentator whose columns are syndicated nationwide, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week and was admitted to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for treatment. He announced at the time that he was "suspending my journalistic work for an indefinite but, God willing, not too lengthy period."

Yesterday, however, the Sun-Times quoted Novak as announcing his immediate retirement in view of what he called his "dire" prognosis. His last column appeared July 28 in The Washington Post.

"The details are being worked out with the doctors this week, but the tentative plan is for radiation and chemotherapy," Novak told the Sun-Times.

The columnist became ill when he and his wife went to visit their daughter near Cape Cod late last month.

A few days earlier, Novak struck a homeless pedestrian at a downtown Washington intersection while driving his black Corvette. He said he did not realize he had hit anyone until he was flagged down by a passing bicyclist. The 86-year-old pedestrian sustained a dislocated shoulder and was hospitalized. Novak received a $50 ticket.

Novak launched a political column in 1963 with Rowland Evans and continued it after his longtime partner retired in 1993. Novak is perhaps best known as the co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" from 1980 to 2005.

Novak has been diagnosed with cancer at least three times. He underwent surgery in 2003 to remove a cancerous growth on his kidney and was under medical observation for a possible recurrence.

He came under sharp criticism for a column in 2003 in which he identified Valerie Plame, the wife of a former diplomat who had become a Bush administration critic, as a CIA operative. The column led to a lengthy investigation that culminated with the conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Vice President Cheney, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. President Bush subsequently commuted Libby's sentence.

Staff writer Howard Kurtz contributed to this report.

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