Spin Cycle

08.23.12

Wolf Blitzer Channels His Opinionated Side

A CNN anchor moves away from passive neutrality

Is Wolf Blitzer increasingly indulging in opinion?

Video screenshot

In a video interview in The Situation Room, I asked the CNN anchor about the way he’s been challenging political figures lately. He told Donald Trump he was sounding ridiculous on the birther question, and repeatedly pressed Democratic chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to admit that Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan wouldn’t affect anyone now 55 and older.

Blitzer admitted to being more aggressive than in the past. “The notion that politicians can come on and think they’re getting a free ride, I think that’s ancient history. ..We want to ask tough questions, and when we hear something that’s clearly factually wrong, we push back.” He added: “Sometimes people hate you in the process of that, the partisan types on both sides, but it equals out.”

But what about raw opinion, such as when he declared that President Obama should have spoken to the NAACP? “I don’t know if it’s opinionated as much as trying to keep them honest,” he said. But he feels free to second-guess politicians “as a seasoned journalist.”

Blitzer told me he thinks the upcoming conventions will have an impact because while “the news junkies have been paying a great deal of attention,” many undecided voters haven’t. And he said it was “much more important” for a president to speak to the White House press corps than People magazine and Entertainment Tonight, despite the campaign’s assertions to the contrary, though as a former White House correspondent, he said, “I’m biased.”

I also accused him of being in the tank—for the Washington Nationals. But Wolf countered with a fact: they have the best record in baseball.