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

Analysis and Commentary

Arizona's 'Wild West' reputation?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Monday, January 10, 2011

I shudder every time an act of traumatic violence hits the country, not only in empathy with those whose lives have been made painful or worse, but because the event seems to release a political virus that causes many to avoid hard thinking about legitimate problems...

Analysis and Commentary

Politicizing the tragedy in Arizona?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Will Sarah Palin suffer from her provocative little logo? As Gabrielle Giffords fights for life in Arizona, one can only hope...

Analysis and Commentary

Health care repeal gaining momentum?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The bill, if it passes the House, will die in the Senate. If it survives the Senate, it will be killed by the veto pen of the president. Does this mean that introducing and debating the proposal are acts of political gimmickry? I think not...

Analysis and Commentary

What is the legacy of the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Monday, December 13, 2010

At the time of his death, every Democratic administration since Kennedy had found a place for Holbrooke -- not necessarily the one he coveted at the moment, but always something substantial. He was simply too good, too smart, too talented to keep out of the line-up...

Analysis and Commentary

Should President Obama forsake House Dems on taxes?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Democrats are marching into battle against their own president, not to mention the tax deal he concluded with Republicans who recaptured the House with a pick-up of 63 seats and came close in the Senate...

Analysis and Commentary

Obama: George W. Bush's third term?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This is no total vindication of George W. Bush but rather further proof that the world is a tough place to change overnight...

Analysis and Commentary

Are we the "greediest generation"?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

These are not easy times. Here and abroad free people are being asked to bear burden that goes to other core of their lifelong expectations. The last thing they need is a scold...

Analysis and Commentary

U.S. House to Big House for DeLay?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DeLay lost his stature years ago. The hope here is that he does not lose his freedom...

Analysis and Commentary

Is Obama falling into a Mideast ‘trap’?

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Monday, November 22, 2010

President Obama risks more than failure in the Middle East...Until he shows himself to be an "homme serieux," nothing he says will make any party sit up and listen, let alone obey...

Analysis and Commentary

Open Mike, Nov. 20-21: Justice Awry

by Robert Zelnickvia Arena (Politico)
Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eric Holder may be stirred by the virtue of a system so devoted to civilized behavior that it elevates process over results. While applauding his humanity, one must conclude that he would be better employed elsewhere...