What exactly prompted the Prince of Darkness to work blue on CNN's Inside Politics? A rare moment of candor? Some sort of misfiring synapse? Was he having a flashback to his testimony for the Valerie Plame grand jury?
Footage of the bizarre dustup between the Abbott and Costello of cable news, Novak and James Carville (almost certainly the model for mushmouthed Boomhauer on King of the Hill), is online here.
During a routine (read: strained and uninteresting) discussion of the senatorial chances of Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fl.), Carville mumbles something like, "He's [Novak] got to show these right wingers that he's got a backbone, you know. It's why the Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show 'em that you're tough."
To which the The Teeth That Roared responds: "That's bullshit," waits a moment and then, like Boris Karloff getting off the table as Frankenstein's monster, sits up, wanders the stage briefly, and exits stage right.
It's showmanship at it's finest, really: Novak realized he wasn't going to top himself, so he said effectively said goodnight to the audience and went home (that, or a producer probably told him to get the fuck off the stage).
CNN has suspended Novak indefinitely. Which is no way to treat the guy who just delivered the only interesting bit of video on that flagging network since Jon Stewart called Tucker Carlson a dick on the now-cancelled Crossfire. And before that, it was what, Peter Arnett touring Iraqi baby milk factories like he was visting Willie Wonka's chocolate plant?
As televised liberal-conservative dust-ups go, this one doesn't quite hold a candle to the celebrated Bill Buckley vs. Gore Vidal cat fight during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. After wordsmith Vidal insisted that, no, really, the author of God and Man at Yale was a "pro-crypto-Nazi," Buckley (who famously signs his letters in National Review, "Cordially…") stopped speaking in his native Latin and declaimed: "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in you goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." That's good stuff–and it was on broadcast TV for god's sake.
But we live in a fallen age, and our current small-screen commentators are midgets standing on the shoulders of dwarves. So to paraphrase the poet Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the only TV is good TV, so we take what we can get. (Yes, we take what we can get.)