In the early 1970s, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post and set the standard for modern investigative reporting. Their investigations into the scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon were recounted in two of the biggest selling books of the decade: "All the President's Men" (also a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) and "The Final Days". Since then, in books, magazine articles, television reporting and commentary, Bernstein has continued to build on the theme he and Woodward first explored in the Nixon years-the use and abuse of power: Political power, media power, financial power and spiritual power. His latest best-selling book, published in 1996, is the acclaimed papal biography "John Paul II and the History of Our Time". The book reveals the Pope's extraordinary role in the fall of communism and examines in great detail his attitudes on sex, priestly celibacy, women and tensions between the Vatican and the American church.
Next year Knopf will publish Bernstein's biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is also a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, where during the 2000 presidential campaign he wrote a definitive account of the life and politics of Senator John McCain, and he is a frequent political commentator on network television.
After winning virtually every prize in journalism, including (with Bob Woodward) the Pulitzer awarded to The Washington Post for its Watergate coverage, Bernstein left the paper in 1977 and spent the next year investigating the CIA's secret relationship with the American press during the Cold War. The resulting 25,000-word article, for Rolling Stone, was the first to examine a subject long suppressed by both American newspapers and the intelligence community.
From 1980 to 1984, Bernstein was at ABC News, first as its Washington Bureau Chief, then as a senior correspondent specializing in national security matters. His first story on the air-on ABC's 20/20, then in a print version for the New Republic magazine-disclosed an unprecedented U.S. secret alliance with China, Pakistan, and Egypt to supply Afghanistan's Mujahadin Islamic warriors with arms to fight the Soviet Union. (Ultimately, those weapons made it possible for the Mujahadin to defeat the Soviets, and now the same weapons have been turned against the United States-by the same Mujahadin, Taliban fighters and Al Queda fanatics allied with Osama bin Laden.)
In 1982, for ABC News and Nightline, Bernstein covered the Israeli invasion of Lebanon by forces under the command of Ariel Sharon. He was the first to report that Sharon had deceived the Israeli Cabinet about the real intention of the operation-to drive the Palestinians out of Lebanon, not (as he had claimed) to merely establish a 25 kilometer security zone north from the border. Bernstein then spent several more months reporting about the war, Sharon, Yassar Arafat and the Palestinians.
In late 1989, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Bernstein went to Iraq for Time magazine. His special report in Time -several weeks before the start of the Gulf War-disclosed seething discontent and hatred for Saddam throughout Iraq, and caused Bernstein to be immediately expelled from the country, put on a plane, and flown out to Egypt. In 1986, Bernstein's highly acclaimed memoir, "Loyalties: A Son's Memoir", about his parents' encounter with McCarthyism, was published.
As a contributing editor at Time, Bernstein wrote a cover story in 1992 revealing a clandestine alliance between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan to aid the Solidarity labor movement in Poland-an article that led former Soviet President Gorbachev to respond in The New York Times that "without this Pope, none of the events in Eastern Europe"-the fall of communism-"would have occurred." Bernstein then began work (with Vatican expert Marco Politi) on his papal biography, John Paul II and the History of Our Time.
In 1992, Bernstein wrote a cover story for The New Republic magazine entitled "The Idiot Culture"-a scathing (and prescient) indictment of the sensationalist agenda overtaking much of American journalism. His critique argued that the journalistic legacy of Watergate is at odds with an increasingly irresponsible media culture, dominated by huge conglomerates, that in the interest of profits (rather than truth) routinely celebrates gossip, the lurid and the loopy, and manufactured controversy at the expense of real reporting. Bernstein has also served as Executive Vice President and Editor of Voter.com, named by Forbes Magazine as the best political site on the Web.
Though only 28 when he began covering Watergate, Bernstein by then already had 12 years of newspaper experience. At age 16, he'd gone to work for The Washington Star as a copyboy, advanced quickly through the ranks, dropped out of college, worked 15 months as a reporter in New Jersey--where he won major prizes for investigative reporting, feature writing, and news on deadline-then joined The Washington Post in 1966 at the age of 22.
As a metropolitan reporter at The Post he covered virtually every aspect of the urban experience: police, the courts, city hall, the suburbs, race and civil rights, Maryland and Virginia politics, while also becoming known as one of the paper's premier writing stylists-and a part-time rock critic.