Conservative columnist Robert Novak died Tuesday in Washington at 78 after fighting brain cancer since 2008. Novak’s career spanned half a century, but he knew many would most remember him for his central role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame during the Bush II era. –KA

Los Angeles Times:

In an interview in 2007, he predicted with regret the first line in his obituary, lamenting to PBS’ Charlie Rose that his Plame column was “a very minor story compared to some of the big stories that I have had. But … that’s going to be in the lead of my obituary, and I can’t help it.”

Novak’s Plame column set off one of those perfect Washington storms, in which White House officials, famous journalists and CIA sources became part of a courtroom spectacle that was played out in the world’s media.

Before it was over, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, had been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, and the controversy had exposed journalists’ coziness with official sources and tarnished the reputations of two key administration figures — political guru Karl Rove and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage — who confessed to leaking Plame’s identity to reporters. President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s 2½-year sentence.

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