There are two people in America with Situation Rooms -- and one of them was honored Thursday night at a gala dinner at the Ritz Carlton. CNN's Wolf Blitzer received the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (formerly the Radio Television News Directors Foundation) at the group's annual black tie dinner.
Blitzer quipped that only he and President Obama have Situation Rooms -- the cable star, of course, was referring to his afternoon news round-up on CNN. Noting that he's been attending the dinner for many years -- which has honored luminaries such as NBC's Brian Williams, CBS's Bob Schieffer and ABC's Cokie Roberts -- Blitzer asked the audience of mostly TV executives and journalists: "What about me? What's been taking so long?"
Other media personalities at the head table included ABC's Ann Compton and Martha Raddatz, CBS's Byron Pitts, NBC's Rehema Ellis, NPR's Melissa Block and CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
Russ Mitchell of CBS News served as the evening's Master of Ceremonies.
While there was plenty of jocularity and self-congratulation, the evening began on a serious note with an emotional remembrance of the chaos on Sept. 11, 2001 -- and the yeoman's work that TV and radio broadcasters carried out to cover the tragic terror attacks on that fateful day.
Various speakers reminded the audience of the importance of free, over-the-air broadcasting -- and the risks to local news coverage if TV signals are diminished. The Federal Communications Commission wants to shift some TV airwaves to wireless broadband companies to accommodate surging demand for high-speed Internet connectivity.
Photo: Blitzer honored at gala dinner; Credit: David Hatch, National Journal