GREENWICH, Conn. – A culture coarsened by celebrity news is to blame for inadequate public affairs journalism, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein told a group of college preparatory students.
Newspapers are devoting fewer resources to issues of importance such as the Iraq war and potential abuses of the U.S. Constitution, the former Washington Post reporter told students at the Brunswick School on Thursday.
He said more resources are being devoted to the lifestyles of celebrities such as Donald Trump and Paris Hilton.
"The problems we have in news and journalism are about us not doing our job well enough," Bernstein said. "The ideal of providing the best available version of the truth is being affected by the dominance of a journalistic culture that has less and less to do with reality and context."
Bernstein, 63, said he believes an "idiot culture" is partly to blame for the dysfunction of political life in the United States.
"You can't separate the appetites and demands of the people themselves and what they are given," he said. "The blame simply can't all be put at the feet of those who present news."
Bernstein and Bob Woodward are known for their work at the Washington Post in the 1970s when they broke numerous stories reporting on the Watergate scandal that eventually drove President Richard Nixon from office.
Bernstein is promoting his recent biography of presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the Democrats' leading candidate.