Jeff Zeleny

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Person.png Jeff Zeleny  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Jeff Zeleny, CNN White House Correspondent in 2018.jpg
BornJune 10, 1973
Alma materUniversity of Nebraska
Parents • Diane Naomi Zeleny
• Robert Dean Zeleny
Member ofWEF/Young Global Leaders/2012
WEF/Young Global Leaders 2015. Corporate senior journalist in Washington DC for CNN.

Employment.png Washington correspondent

In office
2013 - March 2015
EmployerABC News

Employment.png Senior White House Correspondent

In office
January 2017 - Present

Employment.png Chief National Affairs Correspondent

In office
January 2021 - Present

Jeffrey Dean Zeleny is the Chief National Affairs Correspondent for CNN. He previously was Senior Washington Correspondent for ABC News.

He was selected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2018.

Early life

Jeffrey Dean Zeleny was born on June 10, 1973, in Exeter, Nebraska,[1][2]. He has two older brothers, James Robert Zeleny and Michael Jon Zeleny, and was raised with them on the family farm.

His ancestry on both sides of his family is Czech[3] Zeleny is the Czech word for "green." Zeleny is also gay.[4]


Zeleny was educated at Exeter High School,[5] a public high school in the small town of Exeter, Nebraska. As a student, he contributed sports stories to the York News-Times in neighboring York County.

Zeleny attended the University of Nebraska, where he studied journalism and political science. He graduated in 1996.[2] While at the university, he was the editor of the Daily Nebraskan, the school's newspaper.[6] He also played trumpet in the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band.[7]


After interning for newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, the Florida Times-Union and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in college, Zeleny started working for The Des Moines Register in 1996.[8] Although he originally planned to be a sports reporter, the importance of the Iowa caucuses led to him becoming a political specialist.[9]

In 2000, he left to write for The Chicago Tribune.[6] He covered the presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 for the paper.[6] While at the Tribune, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for his work on a series about air traffic control problems nationwide.[10]

In 2006, The New York Times hired him to cover politics, and he covered the 2012 presidential election for the paper, while being their lead reporter.[2][6] At President Barack Obama's 100-day press conference in April 2009, Zeleny received attention for asking President Obama the sycophantic question

During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?”[11]

Zeleny was hired in February 2013 by ABC News to be their senior Washington correspondent and to file stories for the website.[2] He was honored by The Stuttering Foundation in May 2013.[12] He joined CNN in March 2015, and in January 2017 was named Senior White House Correspondent.[13] In January 2021, Zeleny was named Chief National Affairs Correspondent.

In April 2020, he dismissed some of the first Covid lockdown protesters as “there's no question these are not organic protests..”[14]


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