Monday, December 12, 2005

Viveca Novak: “I Don’t Remember”

Viveca Novak (no relation), the Time mag reporter who testified to Patrick Fitzgerald December 8th re her conversations with Karl Rove’s lawyer Robert Luskin, said in an on-line article yesterday: "’I don't remember’ is an answer that prosecutors are used to hearing, but I was mortified about how little I could recall of what occurred when.” Well excuse me, but I don’t buy it. Judith Miller couldn’t remember why she wrote Valerie Plame’s name in her notes as "Valerie Flame”. Bob Woodward said maybe he told Libby about Plame and her work for the CIA but couldn’t remember. Baloney! We forget insignificant things. We don’t forget things that could inflict major damage on ourselves or someone else. And we don’t need to take notes to remember these things. We just remember. Ms Novak said she had a drink or lunch with Robert Luskin maybe five times. “Toward the end of one of our meetings,” she said, “I remember Luskin looking at me and saying something to the effect of 'Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt.' I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, 'Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around TIME.' He looked surprised and very serious…I was taken aback that he seemed so surprised. I had been pushing back against what I thought was his attempt to lead me astray. I hadn't believed that I was disclosing anything he didn't already know. Maybe this was a feint. Maybe his client was lying to him. But at any rate, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I hadn't intended to tip Luskin off to anything. I was supposed to be the information gatherer. It's true that reporters and sources often trade information, but that's not what this was about. If I could have a do-over, I would have kept my mouth shut; since I didn't, I wish I had told my bureau chief about the exchange. Luskin walked me to my car and said something like, ‘Thank you. This is important.’” Psst, you’re spinning like a dervish, Ms. Novak. As a reporter, there is only one reason for Novak to say, “That’s not what I hear around Time”, and that‘s to get the man to spill something. When Novak realized she was the one who had blabbed, I am sure she truly wished she’d kept her mouth shut. But her reason for not telling her bureau chief about the gaffe is not that it was unimportant, it’s that she didn’t want to fess up to breaking the reporter’s first commandment: Give quid only AFTER getting quo. And so now, ala Judith Miller, we’re getting blah-blah-blah as Novak tries to explain it all away. Her whine at the end of the online piece is so tacky: “Luskin is unhappy that I decided to write about our conversation, but I feel that he violated any understanding to keep our talk confidential by unilaterally going to Fitzgerald and telling him what was said.” He hit me first, Mr. Fitzgerald. It’s only a matter of time until Viveca Novak is booted out of Time mag. Maybe she and Judith Miller can start a reporter’s support service: Life After Fitz.

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