Wolf Blitzer

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Wolf Blitzer
Wolf Blitzer 2011 crop.jpg
Wolf Blitzer in 2011
Born Wolf Isaac Blitzer
(1948-03-22) March 22, 1948 (age 71)
Augsburg, Germany
Education University at Buffalo (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1972–present
Title Anchor, The Situation Room
Anchor, Wolf
Spouse(s) Lynn Greenfield (1973-present; 1 child)
Website at CNN

Wolf Isaac Blitzer (born March 22, 1948) is an American journalist and television news anchor, who has been a CNN reporter since 1990. He is the host of The Situation Room and the daytime show Wolf. Blitzer also serves as the network's lead political anchor.

Early life

Blitzer was born in Augsburg, Germany,[2][3] the son of Cesia Blitzer (née Zylberfuden), a homemaker, and David Blitzer, a home builder.[3][4][5] His parents were Jewish refugees from Oświęcim, Poland, and Holocaust survivors.[6] He was raised in Buffalo, New York. Blitzer graduated from Kenmore West Senior High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1970. While there, he was a brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi. In 1972, he received a Master of Arts in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. While at Johns Hopkins, Blitzer studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he learned Hebrew.[7]


Blitzer has said that he has frequently been asked about his name, which has been characterized as seemingly made-for-TV.[8] Blitzer explains that his surname goes back for generations, and his first name, 'Wolf', is the same first name as his maternal grandfather.

In writing for several Israeli newspapers in Washington, Blitzer has used the names Zev Blitzer and Zev Barak.[9] Zev (זאב) is the Hebrew word for "wolf" and Barak (ברק) is the Hebrew word for "lightning" (which in German/Yiddish is Blitz).


Washington and Jerusalem

Blitzer began his career in journalism in the early 1970s in the Tel Aviv bureau of the Reuters news agency. In 1973 he caught the eye of Jerusalem Post editor Ari Rath, who hired Blitzer as a Washington correspondent for the English language Israeli newspaper. Blitzer remained with the Jerusalem Post until 1990, covering both American politics and developments in the Middle East.[10]

In the mid-1970s, Blitzer also contributed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the editor of their monthly publication, the Near East Report.[11][12] While at AIPAC, Blitzer's writing focused on Middle East affairs as they relate to United States foreign policy.

At an April 1977 White House press conference, Blitzer asked Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat why Egyptian scholars, athletes and journalists were not permitted to visit Israel. Sadat, somewhat taken aback, responded that such visits would be possible after an end to the state of belligerence between the two nations. This was Sadat's first public acknowledgment that peace between Egypt and Israel was possible. In November of that year, Sadat made a historic visit to Israel, and Blitzer covered the negotiations between the two countries from the first joint Israeli-Egyptian press conference in 1977 to the final negotiations that would lead to the signing of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty two years later.[10]

Fluent in Hebrew, in this period Blitzer also published articles for several Israeli-based newspapers. Under the name Zev Blitzer, he wrote for Al HaMishmar; using the name Zev Barak, he had work published in Yedioth Ahronoth.[9]

In 1985, Blitzer published his first book, Between Washington and Jerusalem: A Reporter's Notebook (Oxford University Press, 1985). The text outlined his personal development as a reporter, and the relations between the United States and Israel.

Jonathan Pollard

In 1986, he became known for his coverage of the arrest and trial of Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who was charged with spying for Israel.[10] Blitzer was the first journalist to interview Pollard, and he would later write a book about the Pollard Affair titled Territory of Lies.[13] In the book, Blitzer writes that Pollard contacted him because he had been reading Blitzer's byline for years, and because Blitzer "had apparently impressed him as someone who was sympathetic".[14] Pollard also hoped that Blitzer would help him "reach the people of Israel, as well as the American Jewish community."[15]

Blitzer's interview with Pollard was controversial in the context of the legal action against him, as it was construed by some media voices as a possible violation of the terms of Pollard's plea deal, which forbade media contact. Blitzer's subsequent book about the affair was included in The New York Times list of "Notable Books of the Year" for 1989.[16] In its review, the Times praised the book as "lucid and highly readable" and called Blitzer's judgment of Israeli officials "harsh but fair".[17]

A review in The New York Review of Books was more critical, prompting a letter from Blitzer accusing the reviewer of making several inaccurate statements. Reviewer Robert I. Friedman responded to Blitzer's criticism by characterizing Territory of Lies as "a slick piece of damage control that would make [Blitzer's] former employers at AIPAC (not to mention Israel's Defense Ministry) proud."[18]

Pollard was released on November 20, 2015, in accordance with federal guidelines in place at the time of his sentencing.[19]


Blitzer reviews notes during a break from presenting from the floor of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In May 1990, Blitzer moved to CNN and worked as the cable network's military affairs reporter. Blitzer spent a month in Moscow in 1991, and was one of the first Western reporters to visit KGB headquarters. His team's coverage of the first Gulf War in Kuwait won a CableACE Award and made him a household name.

In 1992, Blitzer became CNN's White House correspondent, a position he would hold until 1999. During this period, he earned an Emmy Award for his coverage of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1998, he began hosting the CNN Sunday morning interview program Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, which was seen in over 180 countries. Blitzer's first assignment as an anchor was on the daily newscast The World Today, in 1999. In 2000, he started anchoring his own show, Wolf Blitzer Reports.

CNN selected Blitzer to anchor their coverage of the 2004 presidential election, the 2008 presidential election and the 2012 presidential election.[20] Since August 8, 2005, Blitzer has hosted The Situation Room, a two-hour afternoon/early evening program on CNN.[21][22]

In 2013, he started anchoring the 1pm ET hour of CNN Newsroom, until 2014, when the slot was renamed as Wolf.


New York magazine's Michael Hirschhorn has described Blitzer's presentation as "resolutely humorless."[23]


Blitzer has won awards including 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. His news team was among those awarded a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina, an Alfred I. DuPont Award for coverage of the 1999 Southeast Asian tsunami, and an Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN's coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In November 2002, he won the American Veteran Awards' Ernie Pyle Journalism Award for military reporting. In February 2000, he received the Anti-Defamation League’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. In 1999, Blitzer won the International Platform Association's Lowell Thomas Broadcast Journalism Award. Blitzer won an Emmy Award for his coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing. Blitzer was also part of the CNN team that was awarded a Golden ACE award for their 1991 Gulf War reporting. In 1994, American Journalism Review cited him and CNN as the readers' choice for the Best in the Business Award for network coverage of the Clinton administration.[21] In May 1999, Blitzer was awarded the honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by the University at Buffalo. On May 20, 2007, Blitzer was awarded the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the George Washington University at their undergraduate commencement exercise.[24] On May 23, 2010, Blitzer was awarded the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Niagara University at their undergraduate commencement exercise. Also, on May 14, 2011 he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Penn State University.[citation needed] On September 25, 2011, Blitzer was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Hartford.[25] On May 10, 2014, Blitzer received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Howard University.[26]

Other media appearances

Blitzer appears as himself in the 2009 documentary "Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace." The film deals with the back room negotiations that led to the historic 1979 Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. At the time, Blitzer was the Washington Bureau Chief of the Jerusalem Post, and played a key role in establishing a back channel of communications between Israel and the White House by introducing President Carter's General Counsel, Robert Lipshutz, to New York businessman Leon Charney, a close friend of then Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman.[27] The flow of information between Weizman and Carter, via Charney and Lipshutz, contributed to finalizing the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

On September 17, 2009, Blitzer competed on an episode of Celebrity Jeopardy!, finishing the Double Jeopardy round with −$4,600. He was given $1,000 to bet in Final Jeopardy!, finishing with $2,000 and ultimately losing to comedian Andy Richter, who won $68,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.[28][29]

Blitzer has appeared in numerous films as himself reporting on events, including actual events and fictional events dealing with the related movie's plot including the James Bond film Skyfall in North American versions and in the blockbuster trailer parody "Movie: The Movie: 2V" presented on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[30] He was in the news in Ben 10: Omniverse. In An American Benwolf in London, Ben noticed that Wolf Blitzer was on TV, and then decides to rename Benwolf into Blitzwolfer.

He, along with fellow CNN anchor John King, is an avid fan of the Washington Wizards NBA franchise, and participates in a pre-game video update for the team at home games known as the "Wizards Situation."[31]


Blitzer and his wife Lynn Greenfield live in Bethesda, Maryland, and have one daughter, Ilana Blitzer Gendelman, born in 1981.[32][33]


  1. nate bloom. "Celebrities". jweekly.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Encyclopedia of television news, By Michael D. Murray, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, ISBN 978-1-57356-108-2
  3. 3.0 3.1 "UBT: Wolf Blitzer". buffalo.edu.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Maxine Block; Anna Herthe Rothe; Marjorie Dent Candee; Charles Moritz (2007). "Current Biography Yearbook". Retrieved 11 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "20 Questions with Wolf Blitzer". TheHill.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bartelstein, Steve (1998, May 8). Wolf Blitzer Answers Questions About News [Television transcript] CNN Talkback Live
  7. New York Magazine. Feb 11, 1991. Page 36.
  8. Sheridan, Patricia (October 3, 2005). ""Breakfast with...". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 6, 2005.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Blitzer, Wolf. Between Washington and Jerusalem. 1985, page ix
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Makovsky, David (1990-04-29). "Wolf Blitzer, 'Symbol of Integrity', Leaves Post For Cable Network Job". The Jerusalem Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. The American Spectator
  12. "MiddleEast.org - Mid-East Realities". middleeast.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Luxenberg, Steven (1989-05-21). "The American Who Loved Israel Too Much: Book Review". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Blitzer, Wolf. Territory of Lies. 1989, page xv
  15. Blitzer, Wolf. Territory of Lies. 1989, page xix
  16. "Notable Books of the Year". The New York Times. 1989-12-13. Retrieved 10 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Pear, Robert (1989-05-07). "The Spy from South Bend" (Book Review). The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Friedman, Robert (1990-02-01). "'Territory of Lies'" (letter by Blitzer, response by Friedman). New York Review of Books. Retrieved 16 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "After 30 Years, Jonathan Pollard Released From American Prison." Haaretz. November 20 2015.http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.687303
  20. "CNN TV - Anchors/Reporters:Wolf Blitzer". Retrieved 13 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Wolf Blitzer". CNN. Retrieved 9 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Who's Who in America – 2007. Marquis' Who's Who Ltd. 2006. Retrieved 9 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Hirschhorn, Michael, "Intelligencer: Don't Cry for CNN," New York magazine, April 12, 2010, p.12
  24. "GW News Center". gwu.edu.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. http://www.hartford.edu/daily/Articles.asp?MainID=11295&Category=1
  26. "Entrepreneur and Entertainment Mogul Sean Combs to Deliver Howard University’s 146th Commencement Address - Howard University Newsroom". howard.edu. C1 control character in |title= at position 77 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. http://www.tvfestival.net/content/Opening-Film/openUK.php
  28. Linkins, Jason (2009-09-18). "Andy Richter Crushes CNN's Wolf Blitzer In Celebrity Jeopardy". Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Adventures in 'Celebrity Jeopardy': What is, Get a clue, Wolf Blizter?". Retrieved 11 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Wolf Blitzer". Retrieved 11 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "CNN's Wolf blitzes D.C.'s Wizards". Retrieved 11 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. http://www.davidovit.com/articles/Blitzer.pdf
  33. New York Times: "Ilana Blitzer, Joseph Gendelman" November 7, 2008

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Charles Bierbauer
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
Succeeded by
John King