CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is on this week’s big ABC Family debut of The Brody File Show. The 30-minute show airs this Friday at 9:30 a.m. on ABC Family.
Watch Wolf Blitzer’s full interview with me below along with a transcription. Wolf talks to The Brody File about media bias, how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is covered by the media, how he got his name, “Soul Train,” and his analysis of the presidential race.
Other guests on this week’s debut show include Newt Gingrich and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
David Brody: Let’s talk a little bit about media bias. My goodness, the conservatives love to beat up the media day and night. What is your sense? You’ve been around a while in media circles. Is that an unfair rap? Or what’s your sense on that?
Wolf Blitzer: I think there’s so much media now. There’s so much traditional media, old media, new media, there’s left wing media, right wing media, centrist media. You know there are so many choices out there; people can get the news so many different places.
And you have to decide where you want your news to come from. Do you feel like having it from what you consider to be a really responsible, objective source, or do you want to get it from maybe more of a partisan source.
And I think that’s great and individuals have that choice, and they can get whatever they want. And you can go online; you can go on television, on radio, newspapers, whatever you want. There are a million choices, a lot more choices today than when I was just starting off in this business a long time ago.
Brody: It’s interesting because Fox News obviously kind of positions itself toward the right, and MSNBC leaning forward to the left, and then CNN obviously, you guys have made a decision to kind of be in the middle.
Blitzer: We’ve tried to do that traditional, at least I have, newscast. And when I have a conservative Republican on, I ask tough questions, when I have a liberal Democrat on I ask tough questions. Invariably, the partisans out there, when I am tough, I don’t think I was that tough.
Asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee some tough questions not that long ago. I got in a barrage from the left, why you’re a right-wing pro-Romney kind of journalist? And then when I do a tough interview with someone one the right, say Donald Trump or somebody like that, Oh, you’re just a liberal hack.
So, you get that kind of criticism, it comes with the territory. Nowadays it’s much more immediate, because of Twitter and social media and so you get hammered all the time, but you just have to take it and move on.
Brody: What did you think when Newt Gingrich had that little moment with you during one of those presidential debates with you, where he liked to call you and CNN out about going after a certain line of questioning. Boy, that seemed to be, I mean he was playing to his conservative base there.
Blitzer: Right, and I was ready for that. And I had rehearsed for that going into that debate, well what if he decides to turn that around? He didn’t just do it with CNN. He did it with CNBC, he did it with ABC, and he did it with FOX, too. He took that as an opportunity to try to score some points and turn it against the news media, if you will.
And so I made sure that every question I asked, I had the background, I was fully versed on it, and in case he was going to say something, how could you ask me that question at a presidential debate? I was ready for that follow-up and I was ready for that follow up because I suspected the fact that he was going to do that, even though I’ve known him for a long time, and I have a good relationship with him, I suspect that he might try to do that, and so we were ready for it.
And he was waiting for Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney to come to his aid, and say well, we’re not going to get into that at a presidential debate. And neither one of them did. He looked for help, and then Romney really pounced on him, and hit him hard. And that was the end of it.
Brody: What is your sense within mainstream media circles about the support that Israel receives from Evangelical Christians? You know, in evangelical Christian world, it’s a no-brainer, they’re very much pro-Israel. But I think it baffles folks in the media to a degree.
Blitzer: A lot of journalists may not be all that aware of the religious importance to evangelical Christians of the state of Israel. And if you’ve been to Israel, and I’ve been there many times, and you see the Christian pilgrims, the tourists who come to the Holy Land, you know that they have a deep, deep attachment and they love Israel.
And so, I’m not surprised by it, but other journalists are surprised, because they think the support for Israel in the United States, the political support comes primarily from the American Jewish community, and it does come a lot from the American Jewish community, but from the Christian community there’s a powerful amount of support for Israel as well, maybe even more powerful than from the American Jewish community.
And I think that’s a significant fact that I appreciate and I understand as someone who has covered U.S.-Israel relations for a long time, that maybe some other journalists they say well, why are all these Christians so active politically? For example, Paul Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin, he’s very strong on Israel. One of the factors is that there’s a religious factor here that I’ve seen in action, so I understand it.
Brody: Interesting. What do you make of the media treatment of Israel? This Israel-Palestinian conflict? I know there are many evangelicals and conservatives who are frustrated with the way the media portrays the Palestinians in that conflict.
Blitzer: Well, it depends on, when you say the media. The media is a big operation.
Brody: Mainstream media.
Blitzer: My own sense is that Israel gets a fair share. I don’t think that there’s an anti-Israel bias. I’m sure there’s an element out there, but I think that if you watch the Israeli media, and you read the Israeli newspapers, whether, the daily newspapers, the Jerusalem Post, or you watch the various television programs, there’s a fierce debate in Israel that’s going on about these sensitive subjects as well.
So, I don’t see that anti-Israel bias that some people see. I see that there’s criticism from time to time, sometimes it’s justified, just as all of us, we all make mistakes, but I don’t buy into there’s a built-in anti-Israel media bias.
Brody: You know I’m going to ask this question about how you got your name, Wolf. And it is Wolf, I mean that is, it’s on the birth certificate.
Blitzer: That’s correct. It’s not Wolfgang. I didn’t make it up for the first Gulf War or anything.
Brody: Right. I’ve heard those stories.
Blitzer: It’s my real name, it was a maternal grandfather, my mother’s father, and his name was Wolf. And my parents decided to name me Wolf. So, I grew up in Buffalo, New York, with the name Wolf Blitzer.
And I still get a lot of letters and e-mails from young couples who are about to have a son. They tell me, and they say we’re thinking of naming him Wolf, what do you think? And this goes back to the first Gulf War, when I became, quote “famous.”
And I tell them, look, it’s hard enough growing up nowadays with a name like Billy or Bobby, you know, you sure you want to put that burden on a young boy and walk around with the name Wolf? Some of them listen to me. Others, they go ahead and name him Wolf anyhow, but that’s their decision.
Brody: Still fluent in Hebrew? You keep up the Hebrew?
Blitzer: You know, for a while I was much better, but I haven’t really practiced it in a long time. But I was in Israel a couple of weeks ago. Went to interview Mitt Romney in Jerusalem, and I sat there at the King David Hotel interviewing him, and the next day I interviewed Simon Peres, the President of Israel, Ehud Barak the Defense Minister of Israel. My Hebrew was okay, it wasn’t fabulous, but it was pretty good, and it is sort of weak now, but after a few days, you listen to it, you get it, it comes back.
Brody: What is going on with you and the Soul Train awards, and the whole ‘Douggie,’ what’s going on with that? You wanted to do that?
Blitzer: I grew up watching Soul Train in Buffalo. I loved Soul Train with Don Cornelius. My whole life, I was watching it as a kid, and then a few years ago, a good friend of mine Paxton Baker is the producer of the BET Soul Train awards. I was having dinner with him, and he said I’ve got to leave the next day to go to Atlanta to put together the Soul Train awards.
And I said to him, well I love the Soul Train, and he said, you love the Soul Train? And to make a long story short, the next year, he invited me to come down and make a presentation at the Soul Train awards, and so I’ve been going ever since, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Brody: Very interesting. Let me ask you before you get out of here, you ask everybody else their analysis about what’s going on in this presidential race. What is your synopsis? Your 30 second, if you will, synopsis of Romney/Obama going forward to 2012?
Blitzer: It’s going to be really close. It’s going to be, the next couple months; it’s going to be very intense. I don’t think it’s a lock for either of them right now. They’ve got a few states, and all of us know those battleground states, where this is going to play out.
There are a few wild cards out there in terms of external events. Who knows what could happen internationally, and what that impact could be. You were talking about Israel before, if there’s a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities what’s going to happen? In terms of the Straits of Hormuz, retaliation and all that.
We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few months in the European economy, if there could be a setback on that front and spill over in the American economy could be dramatic. I think in the end, though, it’ll be, this election will be about the economy and jobs, and we’ll see whether the American people want President Obama to get another four years, or give Mitt Romney a chance. And I say I think it’s going to be really close.
There may be 45 percetn who are firmly committed to Obama, 45 percent who are firmly committed to Romney, but there may be 8 or 10 percent that may be undecided, or switchable. Maybe it’s down to 5 percent, but that could make the difference in an Ohio or a Florida or Colorado or some of these states.
So I say it’s going to be close, and as a political news junkie, I love this stuff.