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CNN Anchor, Producer Discuss War on Terror

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and David Bohrman spoke to a captive audience Sunday about The War on Terror's dwindling effect on voters.


The notion of the War on Terror has held diminishing influence on voters over the past four elections, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and David Bohrman demonstrated Sunday in Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium during their lecture, "The War on Terror: From the Headlines to the Back Pages."

The event was the university's fifth-annual lecture dedicated to journalist Daniel Pearl, Stanford class of '85, who was kidnapped and killed by terrorists while reporting on Al-Qaeda in 2002.

Blizter, CNN's lead political anchor and anchor of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, joined Stanford alumnus Bohrman, CNN's senior vice president of programming and Washington Bureau chief, for the discussion.

After Sept. 11, 2001, which Blitzer calls his most memorable story coverage, the No. 1 concern for American voters in the 2002 election was the War on Terror. But in 2004, voter interest changed.

"We began to see a shift on what was going on in the War on Terror to what was going on in the War in Iraq," said Blitzer. Voters began to show more concern about the legitimacy of the Iraq War than about terrorism.

In March 2005, Blitzer visited Baghdad and spoke with hundreds of soldiers. "It was an eye-opening experience," he said, reflecting on how he didn't realize how dangerous his trip had been until he had returned home. "When you're a professional journalist, you just do what you gotta do. You don't think about it." 

Back on the homefront, voter interest in the war continued to dwindle as news coverage on the war started to drift from headlines to back pages. By 2008, the primary concern on voters' minds, reflected on how they marked their ballots, was the economy.

"All of a sudden, the War on Terror faded away really quickly," Blitzer said of that year at the polls.

When Blitzer and Bohrman presented the news of the election of the first African-American U.S. president to millions of viewers, they realized their importance as global members of the media.

"It was a national moment and a global moment," said Bohrman, who watched videos of the election coverage on Countdown to Victory, a blog dedicated to the world-wide celebration of the announcement of President Obama's win.

"Sometimes we lost track of who's watching and the responsibility we have. We hadn't really thought about the fact that the whole world was watching."

In a video clip Bohrman showed that CNN filmed in its studio and personalized for Sunday's audience, a CNN newscaster gave a shout-out to Stanford students and illustrated how in the recent election, voter focus was all about the economy. Secondary voter concern surrounded health care.

"The wars barely registered in this most recent election," said Blitzer. "It was not on the minds of Americans as they went to vote. It was all jobs, jobs, jobs."

Despite some audience concern about the elected majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives this past election, Blitzer replied with the keen wisdom that only a top news station political anchor can deliver.

"Who knows what's going to happen over the next two years," he said. "The Democrats, the Republicans—their attitudes can change, seemingly overnight."

Watch "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" tonight on CNN, 8-10 p.m.

Related Topics: War On Terror

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