At bottom, Novak insists that the whole thing was “a trivial incident exaggerated into a scandal by the Left and its outriders in the news media.” But his version focuses mainly on himself and the public anger he encountered, the break with CNN that resulted, and the steep legal fees he incurred, and only minimally on the fallout in threats of jail, heavy fines, and serious legal fees for other reporters and news organizations that got caught up in the story. That fallout is far from trivial, because reporters now know they can’t really promise confidentiality in the future and sources now know they can’t really expect it. The ranging degrees to which reporters and news organizations ended up cooperating with investigators is something that’s likely to be discussed and maybe second-guessed long into the future, and that is something about which Novak probably isn’t going to have the last word. 

Anthony Marro is a former editor of Newsday.