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Capitol Promotion: Manu Raju Named CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent

Capitol Promotion: Manu Raju Named CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent

Staff Writer
  • The Indian American has been covering Capitol Hill, congressional races and the presidential campaigns for the past several years.

Manu Raju, CNN’s Senior Congressional Correspondent has been promoted to be its Chief Congressional Correspondent, the network announced on Jan. 11. A prominent presence on the cable network, the Indian American has been covering Capitol Hill, congressional races and the presidential campaigns for the past several years. 

Last week, Raju was witness to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill siege. From inside the Capitol Hill, he continued to provide live coverage of the events as they unfolded, and kept viewers abreast of what’s going on. At a point, he was whisked to an undisclosed location to hide from the rioters. 

Speaking to Brian Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Jan. 10, Raju said the Capitol Hill  “was almost like a war zone,” and noted that the riot could have turned into a “mass, mass casualty event.”

In a Jan. 9 tweet, Raju wrote: “Took a walk through the Capitol today and remnants from Wednesday are still visible. The top photo is a cleaning crew in the Crypt. The last photo of the door with police tape is the same door to the West Front where the mob came through like a battering ram and crushed an officer.”

In a Facebook post on Jan. 6, his brother, Sharat Raju wrote: “Since the 2015 primaries, our family has been a little bit to very concerned about Manu’s safety when in public covering rallies or just being out where people know who he is — you know, given the whole ‘the Press are the enemy of the people’ thing,” he wrote. “It’s sort of hard to believe that we had to also worry while he was inside the US CAPITOL BUILDING — a place that should be one of the most guarded places on the planet, especially when they are COUNTING THE VOTES to ensure the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of American democracy.” Sharat Raju, a director and writer, known for making documentaries and films about the lives of immigrants in American society, is married to Valerie Kaur, a Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer. 

Last week, Raju was witness to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill siege. From inside the Capitol Hill, he continued to provide live coverage of the events as they unfolded, and kept viewers abreast of what’s going on.

“Raju has developed a reputation as a reporter who can find out what politicians are privately discussing out of the public’s view,” a profile on Manu on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website says. “And he is well known for his sharp and skillful questioning of politicians, a skill he showcased in 2014 when he moderated debates in two of the biggest races in the country — for a key Senate seat in Colorado and a hotly contested governor’s race there as well.”

In a 2018 interview with India Abroad, Raju spoke about covering the Trump White House, and on how press briefings have grown less frequent and fact-checking has grown more commonplace. “It’s not easy for reporters to challenge the GOP lawmakers in the Senate and House to react to the president’s falsehoods, because for the most part, there are very few members in the Republican Party in Congress, except the ones who are retiring or not running for re-election, who want to speak up against the president because they are so concerned about how it will impact them back home with their own supporters,” he said. 

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“So that has been an interesting dynamic to cover,” he said. Some of these lawmakers would “tell you one thing about the president, but publicly would come out and refuse to do anything or say anything to take him on because they are very concerned that it will hurt them politically if they are at war with each other.” Raju said that particularly on occasions that Trump says something utterly outrageous “and something completely false, some of these members don’t want to talk at all and they run away from us when they see us…We try to get reactions from them no matter what because they have to hold the executive branch accountable.”

Prior to joining CNN, Raju was a senior congressional reporter at Politico, and before that, he  covered the Senate leadership for The Hill newspaper. Raju got his start in Washington as an associate editor and reporter at Inside Washington Publishers, where he covered federal environmental policy and later reported for Congressional Quarterly, writing about energy and environmental issues.

Raju has won multiple journalism awards for his reporting on the major battles consuming Washington and his coverage of campaign politics. In 2012, Raju was part of a team of four reporters who won the White House Correspondents Association’s prestigious Merriman Smith award for presidential reporting under deadline pressure for their coverage of the debt ceiling crisis. In 2015, Raju also was awarded first prize by the Society of Professional Journalists in D.C. for beat coverage of the 2014 midterm elections, and a Folio: Eddie Award for a feature profile on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, a native of the greater Chicago area and a long-time Cubs and Bears fan. He got his start in media working at the student newspaper The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his alma mater. Raju hails from a family of writers, including his late grandfather, Gopalakrishna Adiga, a preeminent poet in the Kannada language whose works are widely studied in India today. Raju lives in Northwest D.C. with his wife, Archana Mehta and their twins.

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