Bozell: After Advising Obama, CNN's Zakaria Must Recuse Himself From Covering Foreign Policy

May 16, 2011 - 3:28 PM

Fareed Zakaria

(AP photo/Jim DeCrow)

(CNSNews.com) – Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell III said today that CNN's Fareed Zakaria must recuse himself from covering foreign policy issues involving the United States, after it was revealed that Zakaria has been privately meeting with President Barack Obama to advise him on foreign policy issues.

“Zakaria is a reporter--or says so,” Bozell said. “To now claim that Zakaria’s covert meetings do not conflict with his journalistic integrity is not only inaccurate, it’s hypocritical by CNN’s standards. As such, Zakaria must recuse himself immediately from covering foreign policy that affects the United States. A refusal to extricate himself is in clear violation of CNN’s journalistic principles.”

Bozell also said it is “hypocritical” for CNN to allow one of its hosts to secretly advise President Obama on foreign policy issues at the same time Zakaria was reporting on those issues.

“For decades, the liberal media have repeatedly condemned conservatives in the media who communicated privately with Republican presidents. They furiously attacked George Will in 1980 when he advised candidate Ronald Reagan, and trounced on Roger Ailes when he sent President Bush a note about the new war on terror in the wake of September 11th.  Neither of them was a reporter.”

“The president’s secret meetings with Zakaria--the same reporter who openly used a CNN network broadcast to promote Obama in 2008--show a clear and disturbing double standard at CNN,” said Bozell.

It was CNN's Elliot Spitzer who revealed last week that Zakaria, the host of CNN’s self-designated “flagship international affairs program,” had met privately with President Obama to advise him on issues of foreign policy that affect the United States.

Spitzer, referring to a newspaper report that indicated both Zakaria and New York Times reporter Thomas Freidman had off-the-record conversations with the president, asked Zakaria about it during an interview last Thursday on his own program, noting that Obama had Zakaria for “wisdom”and “advice.”

“It said the president of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world,” Spitzer said. “So first, when he calls you, what does he say – 'I’m Barack, calling for Fareed?' What does he say?”

Zakaria downplayed the meetings.

“Mostly it’s been face-to-face meetings, usually organized by Tom Donilon, the national security adivser,” Zakaria told Spitzer on Thursday. “What I’m struck by, though, honestly Elliot, is how much time he’s spent thinking about the issues of the Arab Spring, particularly the issues of Egypt; how to make Egypt go right; what are the mechanisms that the United States has to help the moderates and the liberals. It's been a very thoughtful conversation. We'll see where it goes.”

Zakaria subsequently issued a “clarification” of his involvement.

“The characterization that I have been ‘advising’ President Obama is inaccurate. Over the last few months I've had a couple of conversations with the president, off-the-record. At no point did President Obama ask me for advice on a specific policy or speech or proposal, nor did I volunteer it. I know that he has had similar meetings with other columnists.

Zakaria has made blatantly political statements on his CNN program in the past. Before the election, at the end of his Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 program, “Fareed Zakaria: GPS,” Zakaria told his viewers of his choice for president--Barack Obama.

“John McCain represents the best of America's past, and Barack Obama the hope of the future -- the hope of a country that can make big changes and live out one of its greatest promises, of equal opportunities for all Americans, of every caste, creed and color. And America has always been a country that looks forward. So, I will be voting for Barack Obama on election day this year,” Zakaria said at the time.

Zakaria also pilloried then-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), whom he said was not worthy of being vice president or president.

CNSNews.com is a part of the Media Research Center where Bozell is founder and president.