Eliot Spitzer, host of CNN's In the Arena, brought up the fact at the very end of a conversation with Zakaria about Pakistan and foreign policy. Zakaria affirmed it and clarified that "mostly it's been face-to-face meetings...organized by Tom Donilon, the national security advisor."
[UPDATE, May 15: On Saturday afternoon, Zakaria posted the following "clarification on my conversations with the President" to his CNN blog page :
The characterization that I have been "advising" President Obama is inaccurate. Over the last few months I've had a couple of conversations with the president, off-the-record. At no point did President Obama ask me for advice on a specific policy or speech or proposal, nor did I volunteer it. I know that he has had similar meetings with other columnists.]
On Thursday's program, Spitzer introduced the subject by telling Zakaria that "I read something in the paper this week...It said the President of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world."
After seeming to verify that, Zakaria quickly changed the subject to praising Obama's approach to foreign policy. "It's been a very thoughtful conversation," he mused. "You know, we'll see where it goes."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 12 at 8:28 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
ELIOT SPITZER: Look, I read something in the paper this week a couple of days ago that actually made me - you know brought a smile to my face. It said the president of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world.- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.
So first, when he calls you, what does he say? "Hi, Barack calling for Fareed?" What does he do?
FAREED ZAKARIA: Mostly it's been face-to-face meetings.
ZAKARIA: You know, it's usually organized by Tom Donilon, the national security adviser.
ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by, though, honestly, Eliot, is how much time he's spending thinking about the issues of the Arab spring particularly the issues of Egypt, how - how to make Egypt go right, what - you know, what is the - what are the mechanisms that the United States has to help the moderates and liberals.
It's been a very thoughtful conversation. You know we'll see where it goes.
SPITZER: I'm not going to ask you what you have said to the president but it makes my heart warm that the president is calling you for wisdom and advice. And thanks for coming on the show.