The Way Bob Walks

And oops, the way he talks! Columnist and talking head Robert Novak said a bad word and walked off the set in the middle of a rant with James Carville on CNN’s Inside Politics today.


Bob should switch to decaf. And Carville is lucky he didn’t get punched.

Video can be viewed here, or here.

UPDATE: CNN has given Bob a little instant vacation.

“Bob Novak’s behavior on CNN today was inexcusable and unacceptable. Mr. Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and actions. We’ve asked Mr. Novak to take some time off,” a CNN spokeswoman told us.

But, (as of 4:30 PM PDT) they keep the video of his escapade on the CNN homepage, milking it for all its worth. Oh yeah, and their version bleeps out the bad word. Heh.

MORE: Novak calms down. (via NY Daily News Dish)

A calmer Novak said later: “He (Carville) said I was trying to please the editorial writers of The Wall Street Journal. I thought that was an unacceptable questioning of my integrity. I overreacted.

“I’ve gotten into a lot of shouting matches with James when I’m unable to outshout him. I just got a little frustrated.”

CNN host Ed Henry said on the air that he’d hoped to ask Novak about the grand jury inquiry into his column revealing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, but Novak denied that’s why he bailed out.

“I knew what he was going to ask,” he told us, “and I knew the answer I was going to give.”

Getting frustrated with James Carville during a discussion/debate is COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE as far as I’m concerned. The guy drives me nuts. I don’t know how Mary Matalin does it.

STILL MORE: Now, an official apology from Bob. Carville should come out and say that his shot below the belt was innapropriate and that he’s sorry.

You’re next James.

MORE MORE: Carville speaks, with Josh Marshall. I’m copying the whole thing here, since The Coffee House server is being overrun with traffic.

Like a lot of you, I’ve been trying to figure out just what on earth happened with Bob Novak yesterday on Inside Politics.  So today I talked to James Carville and got to ask him a few of the questions about just what happened.

Atrios has a post on his site in which he suggests that Carville’s comment — which seems on the surface not to have been something that would have generated such an over-the-top response — may have been a reference to something more specific that only Carville and Novak or other insiders knew about.

That made a lot of sense to me.  So I asked. 

But Carville said, nope.  Nothing more than what it seemed like on the surface.  And he had no idea why it would have set Novak off. It didn’t seem like a big deal to him either. “At the time I thought it was like a 2.5 [on the scale on pundit show smackdowns].  But when I heard it again later, I thought, no, it’s more like a 1.5.”

Carville also told me that he didn’t get any sense during the interview or in anything that happened off the air that “something was building” or any other sense that the guy was about to snap.  It was as out of the blue to him as it was to everyone watching.

In general, Carville seemed to have the same reaction when I talked to him — a mix of genuinely not knowing what to make of the whole thing, mixed with genuine bemusement and maybe some latent hints of laughter — that he does on the tape as Henry gamely tries to continue the interview as though nothing had happened.

What Carville did say was that the tension seemed entirely to do with Ed Henry, not with him, as many others have pointed out.  And I’ve also learned that when the copy of Who’s Who was sitting there on the table, Henry apparently had it bookmarked with a Post-It note to right about where you’d expect to find Wilson’s entry.

All that together makes me think that the real money quote isn’t the barnyard epithet that sent Novak to the CNN penalty box, but the “Just let it go!” he barked at Ed Henry as he started to bolt the stage. 

To my eyes that line seemed to have a lot more uummmph behind it than the BS headliner.  And maybe that’s why Novak — or I guess, yet another reason why Novak — stomped down to the 9th floor to talk to the CNN brass after he left the set.

Spoken like a true liberal, thanks Josh.



  1. My third brief interview with Karl Rove's breakfast burrito

    Me: "So, did you see where Bob Novak stormed off the set of CNN’s Inside Politics today?" Karl Rove's breakfast burrito: "Didn't catch that, no." Me: "Yep. Cursed at James Carville, took off his mic, and left…

  2. That was priceless.

  3. Ronald Rutherford says:

    I agree completely: COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE as far as I’m concerned.
    He completely drives me up the wall! He makes no sense and all his points have to get back to the Iraq war and that Bush lied to us. Even if it is about the Space Shuttle. Haha.
    So many times the opponent against Carville just can’t think of the right statements back when Carville is just off the wall.

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