National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg falsely claimed that CNN anchor Ed Henry characterized Robert D. Novak's outburst on the August 4 edition of CNN's Inside Politics as "a ploy to avoid answering a question about his role in the Valerie Plame controversy." In fact, Henry made no claims about Novak's motives. Apologizing to viewers afterward for the incident -- for which CNN contributor Novak was suspended from the channel -- Henry merely said that he had planned to ask Novak about the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and expressed hope that he would be able to do so in the future.
In his August 10 nationally syndicated column, Goldberg addressed Novak's outburst on Inside Politics, in which Novak responded with a profanity to a comment from CNN contributor James Carville, then walked off the set:
The anchor moderating the "debate," Ed Henry, was quick to claim that Novak's outburst was a ploy to avoid answering a question about his role in the Valerie Plame controversy. The press loved this interpretation, giving it wide play, in part because [CNN contributor James] Carville pushed it.
But Henry was not "quick to claim" anything about the motivation behind Novak's actions. As Media Matters for America documented, after the segment ended, Henry apologized to viewers for Novak's leaving the set "a little early," and added: "I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully, we'll be able to ask him about that in the future."