Author Carl Bernstein is set to be the guest speaker at the May 2013 Commencement ceremony.
Few journalists and authors in American history have had the impact on their era and their craft as Bernstein. He has written, among other works, the definitive accounts of the lives of three of the dominant figures of the past half century: President Richard Nixon, Pope John Paul II and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In the early 1970s, Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post and set the standard for modern investigative reporting, for which they and newspaper 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, in books, magazine articles, commentary, television reporting and as editor of an award-winning website.
Together, they also wrote two classic best sellers: “All the President’s Men,’’ which was turned into a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, about the coverage of the Watergate story; and “The Final Days,’’ that outlined the denouement of the Nixon presidency.
In the 1990s, Bernstein turned his attention to one of the towering figures of the age, Pope John Paul II, resulting in the ground-breaking papal biography, “John Paul II and the History of Our Time.’’ The book, co-authored with Vatican journalist Marco Politi and published in 1996 by Doubleday, was the first to detail the Pope’s pivotal, and often secret, role in the fall of communism. Much of the information was unearthed from the Kremlin’s secret archives of the Cold War era, and from Vatican sources that also shed historic light on the Pope’s ecclesiastical policies and personal attitudes towards sex, priestly celibacy, women, dogma and tensions between the American church and the Vatican.
Bernstein’s most recent book is the national bestseller, “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton,’’ published in 2007. It was acclaimed as “a model of political biography’’ by the Los Angeles Times, “balanced and convincing’’ by the New York Times and chosen by Amazon.com readers as one of the 10 best books of the year.
Bernstein is also author of the masterful memoir, “Loyalties: A Son’s Memories,’’ which documented his family’s experience during the McCarthy era. He is also a political analyst for CNN and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine, and is a former Washington Bureau chief and a correspondent for ABC News. In addition to his political coverage and commentary, he has written and lectured extensively about the American press, its role and its responsibilities.
Among his magazine pieces, he wrote two articles in Vanity Fair in 2005 and 2006 comparing the presidencies of the Bush and Nixon eras in which he concluded that the policies of Bush were more draconian and egregious than Nixon’s. In 2000, he published, “The Ballad of John McCain,’’ a now-referential account of the senator’s life and politics in Vanity Fair months before the senator announced his candidacy for president in 2000.
In 2011, his ground-breaking Newsweek/Daily Beast commentaries gained international attention on the subject of Rupert Murdoch’s pernicious influence on the politics, journalism and popular culture of three continents.
Bernstein was born and raised in Washington, D.C. He began his journalist career at 16 as a copyboy for The Washington Evening Star, and became a reporter at 19. The Washington Post, he covered virtually every aspect of the urban experience: police, courts, city hall, race and civil rights, politics and the anti-war movement. He was also a part-time rock critic at the paper. He lives in New York with his wife, Christine Kuehbeck. The couple has two sons, Jacob and Max.