Conservative political commentator Robert Novak announced Monday he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, less than a week after he struck a pedestrian with his Corvette and drove away.
Novak, 77, fell ill on Cape Cod this weekend while visiting his daughter and was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he said he was diagnosed Sunday with the tumor.
“I will be suspending my journalistic work for an indefinite but, God willing, not too lengthy period,” Novak, editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, said in the statement released by his publisher, Eagle Publishing.
Novak has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades. His assistant, Kathleen Connolly, told the newspaper that doctors had not yet done a biopsy to determine if the tumor was malignant.
She said Novak was alert and talking in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Novak’s office refused further comment to The Associated Press, other than to confirm the comments on the newspaper Web site.
Hospital spokesman Kevin Myron confirmed Novak was a patient, but said Novak requested that no further information be released.
Last week, Novak was given a $50 citation after he struck a homeless man with his black Corvette in downtown Washington. Novak kept going until he was stopped by a bicyclist, who said the man was splayed on Novak’s windshield.
Dr. Lynne Taylor, a neuro-oncologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, said residents at the hospital are taught to check for brain tumors in patients who report having a recent car accident in which they didn’t realize they struck something.
“People get spatial and visual neglect of a certain part of their bodies and they don’t realize they’ve done what they’ve done,” said Taylor, a fellow with the American Academy of Neurology.
Novak is best-known as the longtime co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” where he jousted with liberal co-hosts from 1980 to 2005, when he left to join Fox News as an occasional contributor.
“I know Bob will confront this challenge with the same courage with which he has taken on the political establishment in Washington for decades,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Novak was criticized after he was the first to publicly reveal the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame in a 2003 column. His column came out eight days after Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, said the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, of Missouri, said Novak’s record of reporting and commenting on American elections “has never failed to demonstrate keen insight and a peerless political acumen.”
“I want to join the many wishing Bob all the best as he confronts this challenge and a speedy recovery as he looks to resume his work,” Blunt said in a statement.
Cyrus Freidheim, publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, said Novak’s work has been a “source of great pride” at the newspaper.
“Sometimes terse, never dull, always insightful, Bob has been on top of the inside workings of Washington politics for decades. Our profession and his many fans worldwide wish him a speedy recovery. We look forward to his return,” Freidheim said.