Robert Zelnick


Robert Zelnick is a professor of national and international affairs at Boston University and was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has been with Boston University since September 1998, where his course Media Law and Ethics has long been a student favorite.

Before joining Boston University, Zelnick spent twenty-one years with ABC News in various executive positions before being named Moscow correspondent.

From 1984 to 1986, Zelnick was posted to Israel, where he was known for his balanced coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian controversy. He then served as Pentagon correspondent from 1986 to 1994, covering the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War. His investigation of the explosion aboard the battleship Iowa forced the navy to withdraw its charges that an innocent seaman was responsible for the blast.

From 1994 to 1998, Zelnick covered Congress and politics.

Before joining ABC News, Zelnick served as executive editor of the Nixon-Frost interviews.

From 1972 to 1974, he served as correspondent and, from 1975 to 1976, national bureau chief for National Public Radio.

Zelnick began his career in journalism as a freelance writer on Vietnam in 1967. The following year, he joined the staff of the Anchorage Daily News.

From 1973 to 1977, Zelnick served as a special correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, covering the US Supreme Court.

Zelnick has won numerous awards, including two Emmys and two Gavel Awards from the American Bar Association.

During the years Zelnick has contributed numerous columns and articles to newspapers and scholarly journals. He is the author of five books: Backfire: A Reporter Looks at Affirmative Action, Gore: A Political Life, Winning Florida: How the Bush Team Fought the Battle, Swing Dance: Justice O'Connor and the Michigan Muddle, and Israel’s Unilaterialism. His most recent book, coauthored with his daughter Eva, is titled The Illusion of Net Neutrality: Political Alarmism, Regulatory Creep, and the Real End to Internet Freedom (Hoover Institution Press, 2013). He is currently working on his memoirs, which will be housed in the Boston University Archives.

A native of New York City, Zelnick graduated from Cornell and the University of Virginia’s Law School.

A US Marine Corps veteran, Zelnick currently resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife of forty-five years, Pamela S. Zelnick. The couple has three daughters: Eva, Dara, and Marni.

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Recent Commentary

Iraq: More at Stake Than Vietnam

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 30, 2004

How not to lose this war. By Robert Zelnick.

Analysis and Commentary

Confronting Affirmative Action

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Diversity itself is a vague concept since it can relate to philosophical viewpoint, religious conviction, and areas of academic interest as easily as to race or ethnicity.

Analysis and Commentary

Lessons of Abu Ghraib

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The soldiers supervising thousands of Iraqi prisoners were ill-prepared for the task and permitted to rampage through the prison like a band of vigilantes while senior intelligence officials—uniformed and civilian—may well have egged them on.

Swing Dance: Justice O'Connor and the Michigan Muddle

Swing Dance: Justice O'Connor and the Michigan Muddle

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, May 10, 2004

With a journalist's eye for detail, Robert Zelnick looks at Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's key role in the controversial University of Michigan affirmative action cases of 203, providing key background information, detailed descriptions of daily arguments, and an evaluation of the final rulings

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Road Map to Nowhere

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 2004

Why the “road map to peace” has reached a dead end. By Hoover fellow Robert Zelnick.

Analysis and Commentary

The Blacks and the GOP

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Thursday, April 8, 2004

Each time I see the African American community preparing to vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic presidential candidate, I recall the warm Washington spring forty years ago when a craggy-faced septuagenarian named Everett McKinley Dirksen convinced his Republican senate colleagues to back cloture on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which broke the southern Democratic filibuster and ensured passage of legislation triggering the "Second Reconstruction."

Analysis and Commentary

Israel and the Settlements

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, February 9, 2004

The moment is approaching when negotiations with the Palestinians will be less a reward for terrorism than a way for Israel to consolidate political gains.

Analysis and Commentary

Iraq and Vietnam

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, December 15, 2003

Our credo should be democracy for Iraqis who work with us, destruction for those who bomb civilian hotels, shoot down helicopters, kill Red Cross workers, and murder Italian cops.

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After Michigan

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, October 30, 2003

In June the Supreme Court issued a definitive—if narrow—ruling that permits the consideration of race in university admissions. This may have been bad law—but was it a bad decision? By Robert Zelnick.

Analysis and Commentary

Bad Law, Less-Bad Results

by Robert Zelnickvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 28, 2003

Through referendum, judicial decree, or executive order, each of these jurisdictions was compelled to abandon race-conscious university admissions.