HENRY: Bob, first, what’s your reaction to the Supreme Court saying they would not hear the case?
NOVAK: Well, I deplore the thought of reporters — I’ve been a reporter all my life — going to jail for any period of time for not revealing sources, and there needs to be a federal shield law preventing that as there are shield laws in 49 out of 50 states. But, Ed, I — my lawyer said I cannot answer any specific questions about this case until it is resolved, which I hope is very soon.
HENRY: In general, though, you believe in the principle of keeping the identity secret, of confidential sources. Have you ever revealed the identity of one of your confidential sources?
NOVAK: Well, people know — who have read my column know there have been special case where I have. But the question of being coerced to by the government and being put in prison is, I think, something that should be protected by act of Congress.
HENRY: In general, have you cooperated with investigators in this case?
NOVAK: I can’t answer any questions about this case at all.
HENRY: Okay. Now, just in general about the principle at stake here — William Safire, fellow conservative, wrote an op ed in the New York Times saying that at the very least, he believes that you owe your readers, and in this case, your viewers, some explanation. He said, “Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources, who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators, managed to get the prosecutor off his back.”
I think that’s the question. Why sit that there are two reporters out there who may go to jail, Bob, but it doesn’t appear that you are going to go to jail?
NOVAK: Well, that’s what I can’t reveal until this case is finished. I hope it is finished soon. And when it does, I agree with Mr. Safire, I will reveal all in a column and on the air.
HENRY: Do you understand why in general there’s frustration among fellow journalist after 41 years of distinguished work, where you’ve always pushed and been a fierce advocate of the public’s right to know, you’re not letting the public know about such a critical case, and two people may go to jail.
NOVAK: Well, they are not going to jail because of me. Whether I answer your questions or not, it has nothing to do with that. That’s very ridiculous to think that I am the cause of their going to jail. I don’t think they should be going to jail.
HENRY: Yes. But I didn’t say you were the cause. But there are some people…
NOVAK: Yes, you do did.
HENRY: No, but some people feel if you would come forward with the information that you have, that maybe they would not go to jail.
NOVAK: But you don’t know — Ed, you don’t know anything about the case. And those people who say that don’t know anything about the case. And unfortunately, as somebody who likes to write, I’d like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney’s advice I can’t. But I will. And there might be some surprising things.
HENRY: We’ll all be waiting to hear that story finally told, Bob.