During a luncheon yesterday in Raleigh, North Carolina columnist Robert Novak reportedly told the audience that everyone should stop harassing him and Bob Woodward about who their source was in the Valerie Plame leak. Instead, they should try asking President Bush.


“I’m confident the president knows who the source is,” Novak said, according to an article today in the News & Observer. “I’d be amazed if he doesn’t. So I say, ‘Don’t bug me. Don’t bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.’ “


Today, bloggers answered Novak’s call and commenced said bugging.


“Well Mr. President, who is it?” asked American Entropy. “You sure it’s not Rove? Or would you like to wait until the next set of indictments come out?”


“You heard briefing room folks, go get him!” wrote Mediabistro’s FishBowlDC. “All of this talk about how Novak is in the wrong here is just soooo bogus. Obviously, it should have occurred to the press earlier to ask the president about it.”


“I may need to brush up on my Washingtonian speak, but I believe Novak is pointing the finger in the general direction of Bush himself,” noted Daily Dissent. “Be still, my beating heart.”


And, of course, where there are bloggers and beating hearts, there are always complaints about professional journalists, particularly those within the Beltway — particularly Novak himself.


“Excuse me while I peel my bottom jaw from the floor,” wrote the Smirking Cynic. “This man, to answer pressured questions, just told the national media that the Preznit is lying to the American people by withholding the identity of the CIA leaker. Read it again, peeps — that’s precisely what his statement insinuates. Novak must have been a wonderful child. ‘Did you get into the cookie jar?’ asked the elder Novak. Little Bobby, who by now was jittering to not soil his shorts, blurted, ‘Yes! But mommy gave me to the cookies so I wouldn’t tell you that she totaled the car!’”


Other bloggers ignored the obvious cookie-jar angle, and instead used Novak’s comments to lay blame for the Plame affair, once again, at the feet of the president.


“Regardless of everything else involved with the Plame affair, the fact is that President George W. Bush has had the ability to get to the bottom of it, or fire those who would not help him figure it out, since the beginning,” noted Political Parrhesia. “Despite all the protestations from Scott McClellan’s podium that no one is more interested in figuring this out than our president, no one has been fired. Only one person has resigned. You might think this would be a story. But our so-called liberal media, as we see all too often, is too busy protecting its access to the powerful to actually do its job.”


“Tell me why no one has been fired over this yet, huh … huh?” asked Political Cabaret. “And why is Novak soooo special that he doesn’t have to divulge his sources, yet others were threatened with prison.”


“This isn’t just some sidelight to the story or new detail,” concluded Josh Marshall. “It’s always been the essence of it, though commentary has never brought it fully into focus. Setting aside legalities, someone who works for the president did something reckless and wrong. The president either knows who it is or could have found out easily at any point along the way. He could have solved the matter at the outset by firing or reprimanding the person. He preferred to do nothing.”

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.