Few journalists in America’s history have had the impact on their era and their craft as Carl Bernstein. For forty years, from All the President’s Men to A Woman-In-Charge: The Life of Hillary Clinton, Bernstein’s books, reporting, and commentary have revealed the inner-workings of government, politics, and the hidden stories of Washington and its leaders.
In the early 1970s, Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and setting the standard for modern investigative reporting, for which they and The Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Since then, Bernstein has continued to build on the theme he and Woodward first explored in the Nixon years–the use and abuse of power: political, media, financial, cultural and spiritual power. Renowned as a prose stylist, he has also written a classic biography of Pope John Paul II, served as the founding editor of the first major political website, and been a rock critic.
The author of five best-selling books, Bernstein is currently at work on several multi-media projects: a dramatic TV series about the United States Congress; a feature film with director Steven Soderbergh; and a memoir about growing up at a Washington newspaper during the Kennedy era (The Evening Star, where he went to work at age 16). He also appears regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine, and has been an on-air political analyst for CNN.
His most recent book was the national bestseller A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, acclaimed as the definitive biography of its subject, published by Knopf.
At the Podium
Bernstein addresses the increasing dysfunction of America’s governmental institutions and its devolving political-media culture. Though his presentation is a hard-eyed analysis, it is accompanied by rapier wit and constructive ideas for reversing the most consequential areas of national decline: the Congress of the United States (“the broken branch”); an increasingly secretive American presidency; an economy tilted against middle-class citizens; and a media landscape littered with misinformation and disinformation. His presentation – as regular viewers of Morning Joe and other broadcasts on which he appears can attest – is filled with both good humor and acute examination.
Bernstein’s magazine journalism and web commentary continue to combine rare reportorial ability with literary skill: from “The Ballad of John McCain,” a millennial portrait of the presidential candidate in Vanity Fair magazine, to ground-breaking Newsweek/Daily Beast commentaries in 2011 about the pernicious influence of Rupert Murdoch on the politics, journalism and popular culture of three continents.
Since his famous essay, “The Triumph of Idiot Culture,” a 1992 cover story for The New Republic about increasing sensationalism, gossip and manufactured controversy as staples of the American press, he has proved a prescient critic of his own profession.
With Woodward, Bernstein wrote two classic best sellers: All the President’s Men (also a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman), about their coverage of the Watergate story; and The Final Days, about the denouement of the Nixon presidency.
His next book, a masterful memoir of his family’s experience in the McCarthy era, is titled Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir. He is also the co-author of the definitive papal biography, His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time, which detailed the Pope’s pivotal and often clandestine role in the fall of communism.
In 1977-78, Bernstein spent a year investigating the CIA’s secret relationship with the American press during the Cold War. The resulting 25,000-word article for Rolling Stone, entitled “The CIA and the Media,” was the first to examine a subject long suppressed by both American newspapers and the intelligence community.
A lesser-known part of Bernstein’s journalistic career is his tenure as a rock-critic at The Washington Post while a metro reporter before Watergate; he continues to write (very) occasionally about rock and classical music.
Bernstein was born and raised in Washington, DC and began his journalism career at age 16 as a copyboy for The Washington Evening Star, becoming a reporter at 19.
He lives in New York with his wife and is the father of two sons, one a journalist and the other a rock musician.