Oral Histories

Wolf Blitzer

Interview Segments on Topic: Marketing/Advertising and its Influence

Wolf Blitzer Biography

Wolf Blitzer is CNN’s lead political anchor and the anchor of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s political news program that provides up-to-the minute coverage of the day’s events.  During the 2008 presidential election, Blitzer spearheaded CNN’s Peabody Award-winning coverage of the presidential primary debates and campaigns. He also anchored coverage surrounding all of the major political events, including both conventions, Election Night and the full day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

In addition to politics, Blitzer is also known for his in-depth reporting on international news. In December 2010, he was granted rare access to travel to North Korea with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as the world watched tensions mount between North and South Korea.

Blitzer reported from Israel in the midst of the war between that country and Hezbollah during the summer of 2006. In 2005, he was the only American news anchor to cover the Dubai Ports World story on the ground in the United Arab Emirates. He also traveled to the Middle East that year to report on the second anniversary of the war in Iraq. In 2003, Blitzer reported on the Iraq war from the Persian Gulf region.

Blitzer began his career in 1972 with the Reuters News Agency in Tel Aviv. Shortly thereafter, he became a Washington, D.C., correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. After more than 15 years of reporting from the nation’s capital, Blitzer joined CNN in 1990 as the network’s military-affairs correspondent at the Pentagon. He served as CNN’s senior White House correspondent covering President Bill Clinton from his election in November 1992 until 1999.

Throughout his career, Blitzer has interviewed some of history’s most notable figures, including former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Regan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Blitzer has also interviewed many foreign leaders— the Dalai Lama, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former South African President Nelson Mandela, among them.

Among the numerous honors he has received for his reporting, Blitzer is the recipient of an Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his 1996 coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing and a Golden CableACE from the National Academy of Cable Programming for his and CNN’s coverage of the Persian Gulf War. He anchored CNN’s Emmy-award winning live coverage of the 2006 Election Day. He was also among the teams awarded a George Foster Peabody award for Hurricane Katrina coverage; an Alfred I. duPont Award for coverage of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia; and an Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN’s coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. He is the recipient of the 2004 Journalist Pillar of Justice Award from the Respect for Law Alliance and the 2003 Daniel Pearl Award from the Chicago Press Veterans Association.

Blitzer is the author of two books, Between Washington and Jerusalem:  A Reporter’s Notebook (Oxford University Press, 1985) and Territory of Lies (Harper and Row, 1989). The latter was cited by The New York Times Book Review as one of the most notable books of 1989. He also has written articles for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

Transcript

INTERVIEWER:  One of the things we talk about a lot in journalism ethics class is, in this economic climate, how much the sort of, business tail is wagging the journalistic dog.  I don’t have as much of this…I know how that’s playing more at newspapers than on broadcast news.  How much have you seen that at CNN, where you’re not covering stories because of budgetary constraints or covering them less or just having to choose?

BLITZER:  We’re blessed at CNN because the company is making a lot of money.  We have a huge budget.  I don’t know how many hundreds of millions of dollars I mean, it’s a big, big budget and if there’s news, the money is there.  We are expanding.  We’re hiring people.  We’re opening up new bureaus all over the world and we’re doing very creative stuff on the web at CNN.com or CNN Radio, CNN International, we have CNN Español, we have CNN in Japan and Europe.  We’ve got a lot of channels out there and across the platform, we’re doing a lot more and do we work within budgets?  Of course, but when there’s news, the top executives say, whatever it costs it costs.  If it means sending 100 people to Egypt to cover the Tahrir Square liberation and all that stuff, we do it.  If it means sending 100 people into Japan to cover the earthquake and the Tsunami we do it.  Or if it means doing whatever we’ve been doing in the last two weeks on Pakistan and the killing of Bin Laden in Islamabad and Abbottabad and all that and beefing up our presence in Afghanistan, we do, if there’s a war, whatever.  Other news organizations that are losing money, especially print, they’ve cut that.  I’m blessed at CNN, we don’t have to worry about that.

INTERVIEWER:  This is good news for the girl who had the “Hire me Mr. Blitzer” writing on her cap today at graduation.

BLITZER:  We are hiring.  We’ve been looking for good, young, smart talent.