Chicago Sun-Times syndicated-columnist Robert Novak was born in Joliet, Illinois on Feb. 26, 1931. He attended Joliet public schools and graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1948. Bob started to work part-time for The Joliet Herald-News when he was an undergraduate student and English major. He also wrote some stories for The Daily Illini and The Champaign News-Gazette. Novak graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952.
Novak served two years in the US Army during the Korean War. After military service, he reported for Associated Press and later covered Congress for The Wall Street Journal. In 1963, Novak started what turned out to be a thirty-year collaboration with journalist Rolland Evans in publishing The Evans-Novak Political Report newsletter and a separate joint column on politics.
Evans and Novak started their column for The Chicago Sun-Times in 1966 and that became their brand-name "home" newspaper and sponsor for their syndication. Rollie Evans retired from the column in 1993 and passed away in 2001 but Novak continued alone with many of the journalism enterprises he started with Evans including a TV show that still includes Evans' name.
Novak's political views have moved from moderately liberal in the 1960s to conservative by the time of the Reagan Administration in the 1980s. Novak was a friend and admirer of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. But he was also a cold warrior who worried about the advance of global Soviet-sponsored expansion efforts in the 1970s. He is still a registered Democrat in the District of Columbia where he is able to vote in Democratic primaries that determine the winners of city council and mayoral races.
Novak has been honored at various times by the Illinois State Society of Washington, DC along with other national journalists from Illinois such as David Broder, Georgie Ann Geyer, George Will, Hal Bruno, John Palmer, Bill Kurtis, John McWethy, and the late Frank Reynolds and John Chancellor.
Bob Novak has been a panelist on numerous TV news shows for CNN and Fox Television and syndicated programs. He has written five books including a biography of Lyndon Johnson and two books about the administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
In recent years, Novak has been part of a news story involving the disclosure that the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, was at one time a covert CIA agent, although she was not in a covert assignment at the time the story was written in 2003. The Novak column further stated that it was Plame who recommended that the CIA send her husband to Niger to investigate what efforts if any had been made by Saddam Hussein to purchase uranium from Niger. Novak cited two unnamed high Bush Administration officials as his sources, one original and one to confirm.
Partick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, was appointed as a special counsel to investigate whatever federal laws might have been broken in the disclosure of Plame's name to journalists. Former Vice Presidential-aide Scooter Libby has been indicted on an ancillary matter for not telling the whole truth to federal investigators and a federal grand jury. But disclosures in just the last two weeks have made the story more complicated due to the revelation that the primary source of the leak was not a Bush White House official but career diplomat and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Stay tuned.
Although Novak's personal heritage is Jewish, for the most part he was not often observant of either Orthodox or Reform traditions. In 1998, Novak took an unusual step for someone later in life of taking religious classes and converting to the Roman Catholic faith at the age of 67. Bob Novak often returns to Illinois for speeches and visits. He spoke to the students at Joliet Central High School and spoke at a commencement ceremony for the University of St. Francis in Joliet in May 2005.