- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Syndicated columnist and conservative journalist Robert Novak, who in a 2003 column revealed the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, announced Monday that he has a brain tumor and will soon begin treatment at a Boston hospital.

Mr. Novak, 77, said he was diagnosed with the brain tumor on Sunday.

“I have been admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where doctors will soon begin appropriate treatment,” he said in a statement. “I will be suspending my journalistic work for an indefinite but, God willing, not too lengthy period.” His statement did not mention whether the tumor is malignant.

Mr. Novak was visiting his daughter in Massachusetts on Sunday when he became ill, and family members called 911, said Charlie Spiering, a political reporter at Mr. Novak’s Evans-Novak Political Report, which Mr. Novak began with the now-deceased Rowland Evans in 1967. Mr. Spiering did not know the symptoms Mr. Novak suffered that caused his family to make the call.

Mr. Novak made headlines last week when he struck a pedestrian with his car in downtown Washington. According to news reports, a witness had to flag down the columnist to tell him that he had struck someone.

A spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed that Mr. Novak is at the facility, but didn’t have any information on his condition or treatment.

Colleagues said he was alert and well enough Monday morning to compile the statement.

“He wrote the statement this morning and asked me to put it out,” said his assistant, Kathleen Connolly.

David Schiff, professor of neurology, neurosurgery and internal medicine at the University of Virginia, who isn’t involved in Mr. Novak’s treatment, said he doubted that last week’s car accident was “a coincidence” and said there’s “more likely than not a connection.”

He said, for example, that if the tumor is in the occipital lobe, or the back section of the brain, it could affect vision. Tumors in the right parietal lobe can cause people to miss things that happen on their left side, or vice versa if the tumor is on the left side of the brain, he said.

Dr. Schiff, who is co-director of U.Va.’s neuro-oncology center, also said that in general a tumor arising in the brain’s covering is likely benign, or noncancerous, and “a tumor arising in the brain tissue itself, in this age group, is likely to be malignant.” He said doctors would probably perform a biopsy or try to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Mr. Novak’s column has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times for decades and he’s a contributing editor for Reader’s Digest. Mr. Novak was a longtime commentator on CNN, before taking a similar post on the Fox News Channel, according to his biography on the Sun-Times Web site. He’s also editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, which is published by Eagle Publishing.

In 2003, Mr. Novak was criticized after he revealed Mrs. Plame, whose husband just days earlier had criticized the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. The identification of Mrs. Plame prompted a federal investigation, which since has concluded. Mr. Novak reported the information was provided to him by two “senior [Bush] administration officials.”

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they were stunned by Mr. Novak’s diagnosis.

“This is stunning news for anyone who follows American politics, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Bob and his family,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “I know Bob will confront this challenge with the same courage with which he has taken on the political establishment in Washington for decades. And with God´s help, he will prevail in this fight.”

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri said Mr. Novak’s record of reporting and commenting on American elections “has never failed to demonstrate keen insight and a peerless political acumen.”

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