Robert Novak, the political columnist and pundit whose plethora of Washington insider connections boosted and finally tainted his career, is dead at the age of 78. As a young reporter, Novak teamed up with Rowland Evans to create the Evans-Novak “Inside Report” syndicated column, which reported on Washington D.C. political machinations from the point of view of (often anonymous) political insiders. In addition to writing the column, which he continued alone after Evans’s death, Novak was a popular presence on TV news panel shows, particularly on CNN. In 2003, however his career was hurt by his pioneering method of reporting what anonymous contacts told him: on an anonymous tip from State Department official Richard Armitage, Novak wrote that Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a covert CIA agent. The controversy created by this leak helped lead to an official investigation and eventually led to Novak being questioned by a grand jury about his role in the leak.