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Family, Journalists Bid Farewell to Columnist Novak

Political columnist Robert Novak was remembered Friday as a man committed to faith, family and craft.

Friends, family, fellow journalists and political strategists squeezed into St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington to pay tribute to the proud owner of the "Prince of Darkness" moniker. Attendees at his funeral Mass included Karl Rove, a top strategist for former President George W. Bush and a key figure in the 2003 Valerie Plame-CIA leak case that became part of Novak's legacy.

Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo told Novak's wife, children and grandchildren that he was more than just the dark nickname he had embraced. "You knew the other Robert Novak, the real Robert Novak," Criscuolo said.

Novak died Tuesday after a battle with brain cancer that was diagnosed in July 2008. He was 78.

The conservative commentator became a household face after co-hosting several of CNN's political talk shows, including "Crossfire." He wrote for more than 45 years as a Chicago Sun-Times and syndicated columnist -- the first 30 paired with the late Rowland Evans Jr.

Political leanings aside, the White House on Friday said Novak's journalism career is worthy of praise.

"I think the president would agree with many that have said they had respect for his reporting and for his ability and his opinions, even if they didn't agree with them," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Among his scoops, Novak revealed in a 2003 column that Plame worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction. Novak later said former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage first revealed Plame's job to him and Rove and CIA spokesman Bill Harlow confirmed it.

The column blew Plame's cover as a CIA operative and led to a criminal investigation. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators. Libby's prison sentence was later commuted by Bush.

A son of Jewish parents, Novak converted to Catholicism at age 67 after attending Catholic services for several years.