Wolf Blitzer grew up in Buffalo, New York, the son of Jewish refugees from Poland. He graduated from Kenmore West Senior High School and received a B.A. degree in History from the University of Buffalo in 1970. While there, he was a brother of the nationally Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi. In 1972, he received an M.A. degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Blitzer began his career in journalism in the early 1970s in the Tel Aviv bureau of the Reuters news agency. In 1973 he caught the eye of Jerusalem Post editor Ari Rath, who hired Blitzer as a Washington correspondent for the English language Israeli newspaper. Blitzer would remain with the Jerusalem Post until 1990, covering both American politics and developments in the Middle East.
During his tenure with the Jerusalem Post, Blitzer interviewed several American Presidents and Secretaries of State and broke news from Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. At the time, he was perhaps best known for his coverage of the arrest and trial of Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy working in American naval intelligence. Blitzer was the first journalist to interview Pollard, and he would later write a book about the Pollard Affair titled Territory of Lies.
In the mid-1970s, Blitzer also worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as the editor of their monthly publication, the Near East Report. While at AIPAC, Blitzer's journalism focused on Middle East affairs in relation to United States foreign policy.
During the 1970s, Blitzer wrote for Hebrew-language newspapers using aliases. Blitzer wrote for Al Ha-Mishmar, a newspaper affiliated with the left-wing Mapam political party under the name Ze'ev Blitzer. He also wrote for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most widely-read paper, under the name Ze'ev Barak. "Ze'ev" and "Barak" are both Hebrew names; the former means "wolf", while the latter means "lightning", the German word for which is "Blitz".
In 1977 Anwar al-Sadat made a historic visit to Israel, and Blitzer covered the negotiations between the two countries from the first joint Israeli-Egyptian press conference in 1977 to the final negotiations that would lead to the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty two years later.
In May 1990, Blitzer moved to CNN and worked as the cable network's military affairs reporter. Blitzer spent a month in Moscow in 1991, and was one of the first Western reporters to visit KGB headquarters. His team's coverage of the first Gulf War in Kuwait won a Cable ACE Award and made him a very popular news figure. In 1992 Blitzer became CNN's White House correspondent, a position he would hold until 1999. During this period, he earned an Emmy Award for his coverage of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1998, he began hosting the CNN Sunday morning interview program Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, which is viewed in over 180 countries. Blitzer's first assignment as an anchor was on the daily newscast The World Today, in 1999. In 2000, he started anchoring his own show, Wolf Blitzer Reports. CNN selected Blitzer to anchor their coverage of the 2004 presidential election. Since August 8, 2005, Blitzer has hosted The Situation Room, a three-hour afternoon newscast on CNN.
Blitzer has been awarded for his journalist work many times including the 2004 Journalist Pillar of Justice Award from the Respect for Law Alliance and the 2003 Daniel Pearl Award from the Chicago Press Veterans Association. His news team was among those awarded a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina, an Alfred I. DuPont Award for coverage of the 1999 Southeast Asian tsunami, and an Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN's coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Blitzer is the author of two books: Between Washington and Jerusalem: A Reporter's Notebook (Oxford University Press, 1985) and Territory of Lies (Harper and Row, 1989).