Carl Bernstein depicted the contentious nature of politics as being in the middle of a "cold civil war" as President Trump pushes back against what he calls "fake news" and various news outlets are perceived as espousing different "truths."
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, alongside Leonard Downie, former executive editor and vice president of the Washington Post, Bernstein compared the current media climate to that of the Watergate era. He stressed the importance of anonymous sources and said "quote 'leaks' which really are not leaks" are instead "mostly reporters trying very hard to get truthful information and put some context to this story."
Trump has been subject to several damaging leaks during his presidency, which has been mired in several investigations looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with his campaign, and is said to be cracking down on people in his administration leaking information to the press.
Bernstein, best known for his investigative reporting for the Washington Post that shed light on the Watergate scandal leading to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, heavily relied on anonymous sources to follow the story.
Bernstein said one of the big difference between Watergate and now is "that we are in the midst of a cold civil war in this country."
He expanded on that idea, saying that there is a political and cultural civil war and all of our reporting is taking place in the context of that cold civil war. And nothing quite like that existed at the time of Watergate."
Part of the "cold civil war," Berstein added, can be pinned on the "configuration of media with Fox News, with CNN being perceived by different sets of viewers as representing different truths." Singling out Fox News, he said the right-leaning cable news channel has "changed American politics as perhaps no other institution has."
Not all of his critique focused solely on specific networks, but on cable news in general, which he described as a "hothouse of political debate in which fact-base debate is becoming impossible in this culture."
He said this "different media universe" is partly to blame on reporters coming on the air to discuss their stories.