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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Carl Bernstein talks media, Israel at UF

Seek the truth.

That was the course of action Carl Bernstein urged in his speech at UF Hillel on Saturday night. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter talked Israeli politics and media coverage before a roughly 150-person crowd of Florida Loves Israel conference attendees, journalism students and elderly men.

Bernstein, famous for his work on the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward, said his approach in those days was to publish the best obtainable version of the truth — a motive that should also be applied to the situation in Israel.

“We need information,” Bernstein said. “We need to get past the propaganda ... We need to find out what’s going on.”

He told attendees to investigate opposing points of view and work to understand every possible aspect of the conflict.

Being pro-Israel, he said, is a commitment to knowledge.

“If we, as American Jews, do the work, Israel is more secure,” Bernstein said.

UF student Ben Swerdlow said he agreed with Bernstein’s thoughts on journalism.

“Journalism should be about getting the best version of the truth, not getting the most viewers,” said the 20-year-old materials science and engineering sophomore. “And there’s not as much of that as there should be.”

Conference chairwoman Alyssa Baron, a 20-year-old UF business administration sophomore, said the event was a success.

For his part, Bernstein was as impressed with the audience members as they were with him.

“I thought the students were great,” he said after the speech. “They seemed really open to thinking a little bit differently, perhaps, than they have been led to think they should think.”

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