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CNN Ponders Novak Status

CNN is still deciding on its future plans for syndicated columnist and political commentator Bob Novak after suspending him yesterday..

The conservative columnist, 74, stormed off the set of the network's Inside Politics yesterday after saying "That's bull----" during a debate with liberal political strategist James Carville.

CNN President Jon Klein, who was off yesterday when the incident occurred as well as today, said he has not yet spoken with Novak and does not know when they will speak, although he said a discussion between them did not necessarily have to occur before the network decides its future plans for Novak.

“At some point I’m sure we’ll speak to each other but there’s nothing imminent or scheduled,” Klein said. “[Novak]’s actions speak for themselves so we’ll just have to see. His actions kicked all of this off, so I don’t know how much more discussion is necessary for the network to decide what to do about it. I think our actions speak for themselves for now and we’ll just see how it plays out.”

Novak, who has contributed to CNN since Jun, 1980, was slated to be a contributor to CNN’s new afternoon Wolf Blitzer-hosted political show, The Situation Room, which starts Monday (Aug. 8). But Klein said he was unsure if that was still the case.“This obviously throws that up in the air,” Klein said. “Again, we’ll just have to see how all this plays out.”

The news network recommended Novak “take some time off,” yesterday after the incident, which occurred during the show’s Strategy Session segment as Novak and Carville debated Florida Rep. Katherine Harris’ run for the U.S. Senate.

Later in the show, anchor Ed Henry apologized for the incident.

The network issued a statement yesterday saying, “Bob Novak’s behavior on CNN today was inexcusable and unacceptable. Mr. Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and actions.” Novak apologized today on his own behalf, saying he would follow the network's "guidance" when he returns.

After Carville interrupted Novak during the segment, Novak said, “Just let me finish what I’m going to say, James, please. I know you hate to hear me.”

Carville said Novak had to “show these right-wingers that he’s got a backbone, you know. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching. Show ‘em you’re tough.”

To which Novak replied, “Well, I think that’s bull---- and I hate that.”

Novak has been in the news for several months regarding a federal investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. Plame’s name appeared in a Novak column on July 14, 2003.

Henry told viewers he had informed Novak that he was going to ask him about the CIA leak investigation during the segment.