Carl Bernstein: 'We're in a real constitutional crisis'

Investigative reporter Carl Bernstein says the task of reporting on President Trump's fitness for office is a challen...

Posted: Jan 8, 2018 9:55 AM
Updated: Jan 8, 2018 9:55 AM

Investigative reporter Carl Bernstein says the task of reporting on President Trump's fitness for office is a challenge for journalists.

"We're in a real constitutional crisis, in an unprecedented place, where we as a country and where we as journalists, have never been before, in which a huge part of the citizenry of our country and the leadership of the country in Congress, privately and in public, openly question the fitness and stability of the president of the United States," Bernstein told CNN's Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" Sunday.

He added: "So it raises a great question: How do we report on this reality?"

Bernstein, a CNN contributor, urged journalists to dig in to the topic. While he suggested that all outlets should report on the issue, he also singled out the conservative Fox News -- the president's favorite channel.

"This is a great challenge for Fox News because they have the kind of credibility with Republicans in Congress that perhaps other news organizations don't have," Bernstein said. "This is a chance to show that they can be fair and balanced."

Questions about Trump's fitness for office have been circulating for months. One Democratic member of Congress even introduced a bill that would use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to create a "body" to determine whether Trump is unable to do his job.

The amendment establishes procedures for replacing the President or Vice President in the event of death, removal, resignation or incapacitation.

Bernstein has said for months that many people privately question Trump's ability to serve. He said Sunday that he has talked to "many Republicans in Congress."

Discussion about the topic exploded last week after the release of Michael Wolff's new book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." It paints the president as someone who neither knows nor cares about policy and doesn't seem to perceive the vast responsibilities of his role.

Related: Bernstein says this is the Trump story reporters need to cover

Some details in the book have been corroborated, while others have been debunked. CNN has not independently verified all the book's details.

Trump allies staunchly deny that questions about Trump's mental fitness hold any merit.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that such questions are "disgraceful and laughable." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he's "never questioned" the president's mental fitness.

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday in his own defense. He said he's a "very stable genius" who is "like, really smart."

Bernstein -- who is best known for partnering with Bob Woodward to report on the Watergate scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon in the 1970s -- said reporters need to start talking to members of Congress about their personal views on the subject.

Related: Trump tweets, I'm a 'very stable genius'

"All of these news organizations need to be flooding the Hill with reporters who ask every single Republican member of the House and Senate, what do you really think?" he said. "And come back to the American people as viewers and readers with what their reporting shows."

Indira Lakshmanan, the ethics chair at the Poynter Institute, a journalism advocacy group, agreed that it is a worthwhile subject. But she also cautioned that it can be "politicized."

"How do you write it in a way so that you don't fall into the president's so-called 'enemies of the people' trap?" she asked, adding that it's important for journalists to tackle the topic in a "clear-eyed way."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 456490

Reported Deaths: 6174
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin947071506
Ramsey40752750
Dakota33684355
Anoka31437368
Washington20627237
Stearns18137190
St. Louis14032251
Scott1224899
Wright11831107
Olmsted1085175
Sherburne831970
Carver706139
Clay661384
Rice625674
Kandiyohi559172
Blue Earth549633
Crow Wing491178
Otter Tail465468
Chisago461838
Benton424388
Winona395648
Douglas380366
Nobles374847
Mower374729
Goodhue359163
Polk330860
McLeod328947
Beltrami316648
Morrison314845
Lyon306340
Becker290039
Itasca288043
Isanti286543
Carlton285243
Steele279610
Pine270815
Freeborn254923
Todd233730
Nicollet230938
Brown219134
Mille Lacs216145
Le Sueur215016
Cass211024
Meeker201733
Waseca193916
Wabasha17493
Martin172126
Roseau166617
Hubbard151438
Redwood141427
Houston141114
Dodge14014
Renville138740
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Cottonwood129218
Fillmore12838
Wadena120918
Rock112212
Aitkin111633
Faribault110316
Sibley11017
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Pennington101316
Kanabec100118
Pipestone97523
Yellow Medicine95017
Murray9137
Jackson87510
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68814
Lake66515
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching61010
Lincoln4912
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Grant4398
Unassigned43568
Norman4268
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Kittson37420
Red Lake3214
Traverse2673
Lake of the Woods1991
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 313284

Reported Deaths: 4437
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk47198465
Linn18187280
Scott15975172
Black Hawk14184243
Woodbury13161181
Johnson1234453
Dubuque11678159
Pottawattamie9204115
Dallas915472
Story886638
Cerro Gordo476172
Webster475077
Warren463939
Clinton461068
Sioux460757
Marshall433262
Buena Vista397731
Muscatine397379
Des Moines396243
Plymouth354270
Wapello353098
Jasper335159
Lee327132
Marion312253
Jones275650
Henry269931
Carroll258934
Bremer251048
Crawford235524
Boone224717
Washington224333
Benton214550
Mahaska198937
Jackson196532
Tama191659
Dickinson189429
Kossuth182244
Delaware177736
Clay173421
Wright167824
Fayette166824
Buchanan162924
Hamilton162930
Winneshiek161420
Harrison159162
Hardin158731
Cedar156819
Clayton154349
Butler152524
Page148715
Floyd142036
Cherokee140527
Mills139017
Lyon138233
Poweshiek136024
Hancock133024
Allamakee131630
Iowa128522
Madison126210
Calhoun12409
Grundy123428
Winnebago123329
Jefferson122625
Mitchell117337
Louisa116830
Cass115443
Chickasaw114012
Appanoose113340
Sac113215
Union112823
Emmet111332
Shelby108027
Humboldt107819
Guthrie104624
Franklin104018
Unassigned10290
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery90024
Keokuk86526
Howard86419
Monroe82820
Clarke8219
Pocahontas78811
Ida76930
Davis70421
Adair69820
Greene6987
Monona69618
Lucas67110
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6029
Fremont5296
Van Buren50615
Decatur5004
Ringgold46311
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Adams3023
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