Community, Features

Author Andrea Bernstein discusses the power of truth in journalism at WBUR’s CitySpace

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, news organizations have worked tirelessly to provide live updates. As the media continues to report on the Trump administration, investigative journalists are providing further information on Trump as a person and businessman.

Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast “Trump, Inc.,” speaks about her new book, “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power,” at WBUR CitySpace Wednesday. PERRY SOSI/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Andrea Bernstein details the ascent of two powerful families in the United States in her recent narrative “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power,” published on Jan. 14.

In an interview with Tonya Mosley at WBUR’s CitySpace Wednesday, Bernstein shared insight into the families’ corruption and what she called their flawed histories.

Bernstein, who has worked as a journalist since 1994, said her goal is to share factual evidence and to champion credible reporting. In reference to inaccurate stories told by the Trump family, Bernstein shared her understanding of how these powerful figures operate.

“What matters is the story that you tell, not the truth,” Bernstein said in the interview, after recounting a false story told by Ivanka Trump. “A large part of what I’ve tried to do in this book is [to] restore the idea that truth and facts are important, and that they do matter.”

Amy Macdonald, director of community engagement at WBUR, said she finds great importance in Bernstein’s knowledge and work, and hopes Bernstein provides Bostonians better insight into government officials and the country at large.

“I think what she does is a service to citizens in how power can corrupt and how we’ve got to hold these politicians and these billionaires accountable,” Macdonald said. “It’s an offering to the city, to come and share this woman in person and go behind the scenes into the reporting.”

In reference to this theme of abuse of power, an offense on which Congress recently impeached Trump, Bernstein spoke extensively on the misuse of journalism practices.

After commenting on Jared Kushner’s ownership and overarching control of a New York-based newspaper, Berstein said the current presidential administration and its associated media outlets are corrupt and misguided.

“[Journalism is] viewed as a tool to use for somebody,” Bernstein told the audience. “There are organizations that are not journalistic in the sense that you or I would understand, but that are credential to cover the president and the White House, because they see the press as serving their ends.”

Mosley, newly-inducted co-host of WBUR’s Here & Now, wrote in an email she believes in the importance of journalists like Bernstein in promoting truth and honesty.

“Through deep research and tenacious investigative reporting, Andrea digs up details that are important for audiences to know; information we would not otherwise be privy to,” Mosley wrote. “Andrea’s journalism helps society gain a greater understanding a deeper sense of not just what, but why.”

The interview also highlighted the “15 lies a day” article by the Washington Post, which reported that the president told over 6,000 lies in 2018 alone. In the theme of fact-based journalism and transparency, Bernstein referenced the article and subsequent research as evidence disproving the legitimacy of the Trump administration.

Emma Roth, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts, was among the nearly 60 visitors to CitySpace for the conversation and brief question and answer session. As one of the few students in attendance, Roth said she wishes events hosted at the space could better engage with the Boston University population. 

“I think it’s really incredible that this space exists,” Roth said. “I just wish that they would market it more to the student community.”

Nevertheless, Roth said she benefited from the talk and said she believes “American Oligarchs” serves as a resource for citizens to enact their duty to combat the falsification of facts and form a more expansive awareness of America’s politicians.

“I was simultaneously very depressed and very uplifted,” Roth said. “I need to read this book because there’s so much that I don’t know. I think there’s so much that a lot of us don’t know.”

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