After the Glory of Watergate
Carl Bernstein is a veteran journalist who shared a Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward in 1973 for their investigative coverage of the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post. He has authored or co-authored six books, including the acclaimed "All the President's Men," which he wrote with Woodward. He has written for a variety of publications, including Vanity fair, Time, USA Today, Rolling Stone and The New Republic, and he was a Washington bureau chief and correspondent for ABC News.
Question: Is it hard to have had such a major success with Watergate so early in your career?
Carl Bernstein: Both Bob and myself have had the most incredible opportunities as a result of Watergate. And hopefully we’ve both taken advantage of those opportunities to, you know, in our very different ways, explore the same things that really we did in Watergate, which is the use and abuse of power.
I’ve written five books, I guess. Two with Bob, doing another one now, and you know, from the Biography of Hillary Clinton to the Pope, John Paul II, or memoir about the McCarthy era and my parents. But almost all the work is focused on that, though I still every once in a while I’ll do a little bit about rock music, because I was a rock music critic at one point. But we’ve had great opportunities.
And sure, there have been times when I think that, hey, you know, you can’t be judged on this one thing every day because there’s not going to be another story like that. And... but look, people have been extraordinarily wonderful by and large, you know. You walk down the street, I walk down the street, people come up to me all the time, they’re grateful about what we did, about our continuing work, my continuing work.
And look, has post-Watergate been a life of hardship? Hell no. It’s been wonderful and then every once in a while you get hit in the face.
Question: Were you relieved when Big Throat revealed his identity in 2005?
Carl Bernstein: Not at first. We were both horrified. And had... our instinct was not to confirm the report because it was a weak report in some regards. And we were not convinced that Mark Felt had actually given his permission. That we knew at the time that he had serious dementia and that we thought that this had perhaps been coaxed... and had more to do with his family and a lawyer who purported to represent him than it did with his own wishes. And I don’t think that if he was not in his advanced state of dementia, I doubt seriously that he would have, since he was so adamant during all the time up until then that he not reveal and we not reveal his identity.
At the same time, and meeting with him afterwards, and I think that we were able to sense some real connection despite the dementia. I think he was genuinely relieved in some way, or happy at the attention and that he must have had some sense that he was being regarded somewhat heroically.
And I think it’s important to understand what Mark Felt did and what he didn’t do. There’s a myth about our coverage, The Washington Post coverage, and that Deep Throat threw all these secrets over a transom and gave us the keys to the kingdom. Not quite the case. We, Bob especially, had to pry information out of him. Most of what Deep Throat did was confirm information we had gotten elsewhere from other sources. And it was invaluable that confirmation because it gave us a certainty that we were right, even as everyday the leader of the free world got up and attacked us, a 28- and 29-year-old kids really, at the time. You know, and that was kind of a heavy experience to have that going on. And yet, we had the certainty, partly because of Deep Throat, that we knew our information was good and unshakable. But in terms of original information, it came from other sources. And so this was not then... I think there’s a little bit of revisionism that goes on about this.
What really is extraordinary is that we were able to keep this secret for 30-something years, you know. That the Russians knew pretty much every thing about us and we knew everything about the Russians. And this was the one real secret in the world, and only three of us knew, Bradley, Woodward, and myself and we were smart enough, the two of us not to tell our ex-wives who it was and—that would have been the end of it. And so.
And one other thing that is apparent in retrospect, you were asking about so-called investigative reporting. We were young, we were not national reporters, we were local reporters and we went about this story very much like the kind of police reporting you do and learn when I first got into the business at The Washington Star, you worked your way up. We interviewed secretaries and clerks before we even knew any higher-ups. We got tables of organization of the White House and the Nixon Reelection Committee and we studied them and getting them was like getting classified information.
So we used this very basic methodology and knocked on doors, hundreds of doors, most of which were slammed in our face. So it’s about shoe leather in terms of this commitment of resources more than anything else. It’s about the management and reporters who are willing to keep going... and days without a story in the paper. And can you do that in the environment of the Web? I don’t know. That’s one of the questions. There’s so much pressure to get it in print, get it out there, get it on the wire very quickly.
And the other thing is, we were single at the time. We did most of our work at night, our reporting at night. We visited people in their homes, away from the pressure of the White House or the Committee to Reelect the President. So, we went... we started interviewing people and knocking on doors at 7:00 in the evening and we’d go to till 11:00 at night. So that became our methodology and being single made that easier.
Recorded July 22, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
"Has post-Watergate been a life of hardship? Hell no. It’s been wonderful and then every once in a while you get hit in the face."
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
The images and our best computer models don't agree.
A trio of intriguing galaxy clusters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNDA0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTkzNzUyOH0.0IRzkzvKsmPEHV-v1dqM1JIPhgE2W-UHx0COuB0qQnA/img.jpg?width=980" id="d69be" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d2664d9174369e0a06540cb3a3a9079" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The three galaxy clusters imaged for the study
Mapping dark matter<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d904b585c806752f261e1215014691a6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fO0jO_a9uLA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The assumption has been that the greater the lensing effect, the higher the concentration of dark matter.</p><p>As scientists analyzed the clusters' large-scale lensing — the massive arc and elongation visual effects produced by dark matter — they noticed areas of smaller-scale lensing within that larger distortion. The scientists interpret these as concentrations of dark matter within individual galaxies inside the clusters.</p><p>The researchers used spectrographic data from the VLT to determine the mass of these smaller lenses. <a href="https://www.oas.inaf.it/en/user/pietro.bergamini/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pietro Bergamini</a> of the INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science in Bologna, Italy explains, "The speed of the stars gave us an estimate of each individual galaxy's mass, including the amount of dark matter." The leader of the spectrographic aspect of the study was <a href="http://docente.unife.it/docenti-en/piero.rosati1/curriculum?set_language=en" target="_blank">Piero Rosati</a> of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy who recalls, "the data from Hubble and the VLT provided excellent synergy. We were able to associate the galaxies with each cluster and estimate their distances." </p><p>This work allowed the team to develop a thoroughly calibrated, high-resolution map of dark matter concentrations throughout the three clusters.</p>
But the models say...<p>However, when the researchers compared their map to the concentrations of dark matter computer models predicted for galaxies bearing the same general characteristics, something was <em>way</em> off. Some small-scale areas of the map had 10 times the amount of lensing — and presumably 10 times the amount of dark matter — than the model predicted.</p><p>"The results of these analyses further demonstrate how observations and numerical simulations go hand in hand," notes one team member, <a href="https://nena12276.wixsite.com/elenarasia" target="_blank">Elena Rasia</a> of the INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, Italy. Another, <a href="http://adlibitum.oats.inaf.it/borgani/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stefano Borgani</a> of the Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy, adds that "with advanced cosmological simulations, we can match the quality of observations analyzed in our paper, permitting detailed comparisons like never before."</p><p>"We have done a lot of testing of the data in this study," Meneghetti says, "and we are sure that this mismatch indicates that some physical ingredient is missing either from the simulations or from our understanding of the nature of dark matter." <a href="https://physics.yale.edu/people/priyamvada-natarajan" target="_blank">Priyamvada Natarajan</a> of Yale University in Connecticut agrees: "There's a feature of the real Universe that we are simply not capturing in our current theoretical models."</p><p>Given that any theory in science lasts only until a better one comes along, Natarajan views the discrepancy as an opportunity, saying, "this could signal a gap in our current understanding of the nature of dark matter and its properties, as these exquisite data have permitted us to probe the detailed distribution of dark matter on the smallest scales."</p><p>At this point, it's unclear exactly what the conflict signifies. Do these smaller areas have unexpectedly high concentrations of dark matter? Or can dark matter, under certain currently unknown conditions, produce a tenfold increase in lensing beyond what we've been expecting, breaking the assumption that more lensing means more dark matter?</p><p>Obviously, the scientific community has barely begun to understand this mystery.</p>
Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.
Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
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