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Conservative Columnist Robert Novak Dies At 78

Conservative columnist Robert Novak has died after a battle with brain cancer, NPR has confirmed.

Novak, who wrote one of the longest-running syndicated political columns in the United States, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer. His wife, Geraldine Novak, tells the Chicago Sun-Times that he died at his home in Washington on Tuesday. He was 78.

Novak had been a columnist for the Sun-Times for decades and was long known as the co-host of CNN's Crossfire.

In 1972, he wrote that a U.S. senator said presidential contender George McGovern favored amnesty, abortion and the legalization of marijuana. Years later, Novak revealed the source was McGovern's running mate, Thomas Eagleton.

In recent years, he was perhaps best known for being the first to publish the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. He came under withering criticism and abuse from many for that 2003 column, which Novak says began "a long and difficult episode" in his career.

After decades of solely working for newspapers, Novak reinvented himself for TV. He spent 25 years with CNN and worked for a short time as an analyst for Fox News.

"I had a terrific time fulfilling all my youthful dreams, and at the same time making life miserable for hypocritical, posturing politicians and, I hope, performing a service for my country," Novak wrote in his memoir, The Prince of Darkness.

Novak was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July 2008, less than a week after he struck a pedestrian in downtown Washington with his Corvette. Days later, he announced his retirement.

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