It should be noted that this apparently bogus rumor did not go into Novak's column, but rather was posted online. In Novak's mind, there is likely a distinction between what is credible enough to be posted online vs. what makes it into print. In today's world, that's not necessarily a wise calculation. In fact, the viral nature of the internet probably means that a story posted online should be more thorougly vetted.
One of my sources -- who has reason to pitch Novak ideas, from time to time -- tells me that Novak may have been more susceptible to being misled on this, because he was just returning from an extended vacation. We all know how easy it is to quickly become out-of-the-loop when you unplug from the media world for a few days.
This, of course, makes the cynic in me wonder if he was targeted by the leaker for that very reason ...