Open Forum in The Villages, Florida

Decades of Reporting Wisdom and the Electrifying Future of Cars-Peter Bernard - Part 1

March 29, 2024 Mike Roth & Peter Bernard Season 5 Episode 13
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
Decades of Reporting Wisdom and the Electrifying Future of Cars-Peter Bernard - Part 1
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
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Discover the seismic shifts in media over four transformative decades as we sit down with Peter Bernard, a seasoned TV reporter who's seen it all. From the golden age of unbiased journalism embodied by Walter Cronkite to today's opinion-laden newsrooms headlined by figures like Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow, Peter reveals how the narrative has changed. Together, we grapple with the repercussions of these changes on society's growing divide and the quest for truth amidst a cloud of skepticism around voting technologies and the integrity of our news.

As our conversation unfolds, we peel back layers of the political system that are seldom discussed, dissecting the potential for reform in a landscape marred by misinformation and anonymity. Peter provides a deep dive into the influence of primaries, the Electoral College, and the possibility of introducing term limits to refresh the halls of Congress and the Supreme Court. His insights, shaped by a career of holding the powerful to account, shed light on the nuanced and often surprising effects of political reporting.

Switching lanes, we rev up the energy with a Tesla enthusiast who's transformed his passion for electric vehicles into a community-building endeavor. His firsthand account takes us from the rush of the Model Y's acceleration to the intricacies of Tesla's software updates. Traffic law enforcement, the magnetism of Elon Musk, and the intersection of technology and safety all come under the spotlight. Join us for a riveting journey through the evolving realms of media, politics, and technology, and witness stories that resonate with the heartbeat of our times.

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Open Forum in The Villages, Florida is Produced & Directed by Mike Roth
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Emily:

Welcome to the Open Forum in the Villages Florida podcast. In this show we talk to leaders in the community, leaders of clubs and interesting folks who live here in the villages to give perspectives of what is happening here in the villages Florida. We hope to add a new episode most Fridays at 9am. We are a listener supported podcast. There will be shoutouts for supporters and episodes. As a supporter you will get a direct email link to Mike. In season 5 we are making significant improvements and changes on an ongoing basis.

Mike Roth:

Now you can help me afford to keep making this podcast by becoming a supporter. First, a quick note about the podcast. It's available because I absolutely love doing it, despite the fact that it cost me probably more time than I can actually afford. Now I can't buy back my time, but there is one thing that you can do that would be really helpful, and that is help me to afford making this podcast. You can do that by going to the website open forum in the villagescom and clicking on the supporter box. You're making a small donation of $3 to $10 a month and you can cancel at any time. Really, a small donation of $3 will still make a difference and I'd really appreciate it If you can't afford to do that.

Mike Roth:

I completely understand it's economically tough times for a lot of people, but there is something that you can do for free that can really help. If you want to. You can rate the podcast. You can give it five stars or maybe even give it a review on whatever podcast application you're using. That will make a huge difference because we will be discovered by more people. If you're able to do that, we would massively appreciate it and it would help keep this podcast going in 2024.

Emily:

If you have a book that you would like to turn into an audiobook, let us know via email to mike at Rothvoicecom. Hope you enjoy today's show.

Mike Roth:

This is Mike Roth on Open Forum in the Villages. I'm here today with Peter Bernhard. Peter, thanks for joining us. Certainly good to be here, Peter, why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about your background?

Peter Bernard:

Well, I grew up in Laguna Beach, california. My father worked at NBC in Burbank he was the musical director of Laugh-In all the years that it was on and so I got the bug for television. So I struck out on my own and visited a whole bunch of stations TV stations in the West Coast and I finally got a job in Pocatello, idaho. And the rest is history. Pocatello, idaho yeah, I did stories about potatoes.

Mike Roth:

No, I did some. There's a great commercial I think it was a Super Bowl commercial about Potato Beach, couch Potato Beach. I saw that, yeah, kind of odd looking.

Peter Bernard:

It was very odd.

Mike Roth:

One of the best things about Super Bowl is always the commercials Right on. Okay. So, peter, why don't you tell our listeners about what your opinion is of the current state of media in America?

Peter Bernard:

Well, I come from an interesting perspective because I've been a TV reporter for 40 years. I retired in 2020, just before COVID went crazy. My opinion is that it's not like the good old days when I was learning how to be a journalist. We were always told to be unbiased and to not state your opinions on television.

Peter Bernard:

With the advent of cable TV and the advent of MSNBC and Fox and OAN and Newsmax you name it what's going on in cable TV kind of is embarrassing to me in that when you report the news, you're not supposed to interject what you think about it. Unfortunately, the CNNs of the world, the MSNBCs, they have decided to throw that rulebook out the window. So there are too many people, in my opinion, that are on television that are not really good, solid journalists. I know the names are going through your mind right now, but those guys, in my opinion, are not TV news journalists. They are personalities the Tucker Carlson's of the world, the Rachel Maddow's of the world. So I think generally, we have got a fractured society and I blame it on the media infrastructure that we have right now. I remember growing up and watching Walter Cronkite.

Mike Roth:

It was quite a guy. I got to meet him one time. Oh fantastic, I had sold CBS in Manhattan very large set of computer disks and this drives one. They were quite a thing. One day I was up in the offices and I'm walking through and I was in front of Walter Cronkite's office. So I walked in and said hi to him, nice, nice.

Peter Bernard:

Well, I think he would roll over in his grave if he saw what was going on now. Oh yeah, huntley and Brinkley I love those guys, so I grew up watching that. I still like Lester Holt and the lady on CBS whose names are getting me right now. I think generally people like that are doing a fairly good job of trying to remain unbiased, but when I tune past the Cables channels I can't even watch it anymore.

Mike Roth:

It's not television news, right Well, it's not even handed, no, no. And when some of them just make up stories, that's really terrible.

Peter Bernard:

Well, it's terrible. I don't want to pick on Fox, but you remember they recently told to pay $878 million for falsifying information about one of Dominion's voting machines. Well, to me that was a stake in the heart for them. I'm sure there are other broadcasters out there who have made up things and they haven't been caught. Hopefully they will. But it's disturbing to me when I see that.

Mike Roth:

Well, if you know a lot about computers, you know that most systems can be hacked. Yep, okay, and whether or not Dominion is 100% clean is we may never know. We'll never know. We'll never know, unless there's a tremendous breach and someone releases code Right, and then the hackers will take it apart and tell us whether it's real or not.

Peter Bernard:

I'd like to get back to the day when you just tell the story. Fox's slogan is we report, you decide. I'd like to see that again.

Mike Roth:

I'd like to see some honesty in the news and I really liked that there was always an FCC requirement to present one side of the story and then the other side of the story yeah that one's called the fairness document. That fairness document. I was very sad to see that go.

Peter Bernard:

Yeah, yes and no on that. I don't like government intervention in private affairs. I would like to think that the networks would do the right thing, because that's what they're supposed to do. So to have the government come in and say you need to do this as a broadcaster former broadcaster I don't like that.

Mike Roth:

Well, I think there's a difference between public airwaves, radio and television in the traditional sense, and news that's delivered via the internet, which is, in quotation marks. Private carrier Agreed, but we'll never fix that here. No, why don't you tell us about what you think social media has done in shaping the public's perception about government and candidate?

Peter Bernard:

It's been a good thing and a bad thing.

Peter Bernard:

The good thing is that I think it has brought the populace to think about and get involved in what's going on in our society today, and to that end, I like it.

Peter Bernard:

I think a lot of people are pacifist and they sit back, and social media like Axe formerly Twitter, facebook and all the others have got people involved. Now the downside is you can hide behind a keyboard and essentially say what you want without having to fear repercussions, and we live in a free society so you should be able to say what you think. But there are consequences to what you say, so you may spout off on some subject and maybe not be fully informed, and you just say what you want, and there's somebody on the other end that is seeing that and perhaps they take it at face value and they believe it, and then they run with it, and now we've got it's like the telephone game One person tells another and tells another and tells another, and now we've got this runaway falsehood that is just running rampant. It's like a fire that just catches on an ember and goes and goes.

Mike Roth:

The difference between reality and truth, and what's purported as reality and truth, has become immense in the current election cycle. I keep questioning in my own mind why small states like Vermont and Iowa, in terms of population, get to pick which candidates we get to choose from.

Peter Bernard:

I've been crazy. I don't like the system, the way we've got it, the caucus system, the electoral college. If Peter Bernard was king for a day, I'd throw it all out.

Mike Roth:

I would make every primary in America on the same day, at essentially the same time, so that the people could pick which candidates we're going to go on and be running for president or vice president.

Peter Bernard:

I like that, Mike. I'll take it one step further. I think the party system needs to go. Without stating my opinions on the way things are, I think it's not correct that I have to pick either being a Republican or a Democrat. I know you can be independent also, but there are things that the Republicans say and do that I raise my hand and say, right on, right on. There's things that the Democrats say and do that I go. You know what. I agree with you on that. Why can't I just be a little bit of both? I have to pick a side. I don't get it.

Mike Roth:

Well, the deeper problem is that in Congress we don't end the Senate, we don't have term limits. We should have term limits for them, and we should have term limits for even the Supreme Court here here. Whether it's 20 years or 25 years, that's long enough, I agree.

Peter Bernard:

I agree. Even the local people have term limits. You can't be a mayor in some towns for more than maybe one or two terms. The president can serve two four-year terms. That sounds pretty good, but in Congress they don't. The reason is because they vote themselves on what it's going to be. They have their own health care plan, but not every American has a health care plan. It's nowhere near as good as theirs. Oh right, and it's lifetime. You serve one term and you've got care for life. Health care for life.

Mike Roth:

What a gig. What a gig, I don't know. We have to change the political system here here and put term limits on, and I think we need to allow the populace, the entire population of the country, pick which candidates are actually running.

Peter Bernard:

How about this is a concept, mike? The person who gets the most votes wins Period. Who care throughout the Electoral College? I understand when the nation was young, there was concern about the larger states having too much of a say. Well, I think how about just have a vote nationally and whoever gets the most votes wins?

Mike Roth:

Period. That raises other questions that I don't want to touch, but, knowing at least one person who has served in the Oriole College Electoral, yes, it seems like that's a fair way to represent the way each state voted. Okay, well, let's move on to another question what was your favorite part about being a reporter over the news for over four decades?

Peter Bernard:

It's an easy question to answer. I loved when I would do a story and it would affect change in society. I would expose a bad guy. I would tell somebody about a person who's torching houses in the neighborhood. I loved being the guy on the top of the mountain saying, hey, folks, you need to watch out for this. And people did. And then it was great satisfaction when I helped law enforcement put someone in jail Maybe I showed their mug and then somebody said, hey, that's Johnny lives next door. I know that guy or maybe there's a bad guy. There's a thing that goes around it's called skimmers that they put on gas station pumps and they steal your credit card.

Peter Bernard:

I did numerous stories on that and I loved when I could say, hey, folks, give it a good shake, give it a good once over and maybe you'll get saved from getting your credit card skimmed. But you know, it's a minor, it's a microcosm. I loved affecting change in society. If my story caused something new to happen or alerted something people to something going on, that was job satisfaction.

Mike Roth:

It was the one thing, that one story that you told that really had a emotional impact on you that sticks to today.

Peter Bernard:

It's hard for me to pin it down after 40 years of broadcasting. You did a lot of stories.

Warren:

I did a lot in thousands, thousands of stories.

Peter Bernard:

Stories that hit me were those that affected kids and animals, because normally they don't have a choice in the matter. A kid who was abused I can't tell you how many stories I did about babies with broken bones and the parents were the ones that caused it. I get a tear now thinking about that Little baby. Innocent, doesn't have any preconceptions of how the world's going to be and their parents are turning against them. Holy crap, what the? I don't get it.

Peter Bernard:

Stories about unnecessary gun violence I got so numb to it, mike, that when I was sent to stories about somebody shooting someone, I could write it before I got there. But I had to really boil it down and not be so jaded and say to myself you know what? This affected someone's life, and it doesn't matter if it's in the hood or if it's in some rich society. Somebody just took someone's life because they got so mad that they grabbed a gun and shot them. That kind of stuff got me. Animal stuff, animal abuse oh don't even get me started when I see on YouTube pictures of people abandoning a dog and there's a camera looking at wherever they did it and the dog's trying to run after the car oh, that gets me in the heart.

Mike Roth:

So do you own a dog?

Peter Bernard:

I own two cats.

Mike Roth:

I just got them three weeks ago, Sumter County Animal Services Okay good, I was a dog guy until I realized that the dog had gone to me.

Peter Bernard:

That's true often, isn't it? Well, cats are so aloof, you can pet them when they want you to pet them. Right, right, right.

Mike Roth:

The dog owned me and my wife and when he finally got ill, I said to her let's get another dog, because I liked it and did you. No. She said no more dogs.

Peter Bernard:

That's the end of it. So you're petless now.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, yeah, that was Mr Bear behind you. Got you Nice little dog. He was a great dog when I had him we're going to take. I'd break now and listen to Dr Craig Curtis. Yeah, dr Curtis, can you talk about alcohol use and Alzheimer's?

Dr. Craig Curtis:

Yes, mike, they have had studies out for years that show those that have one to two drinks a day actually have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke. And in a study published, that's interesting.

Mike Roth:

That means that people who totally abstain from alcohol have a higher risk.

Dr. Craig Curtis:

That's a difficult question, mike. Yes, those that abstain from alcohol not with Alzheimer's disease, but actually had a slightly higher risk of heart attack and stroke, however. So this was a study published in June of 2023 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and they showed for the first time that those that had one to two drinks per day it was associated with lower risk of heart attack or stroke, and they found out it was because of long term reductions in stress signaling in the brain. So essentially they had less stress, which we've always known as a risk factor for a heart attack or stroke. But the American College of Cardiology currently is not advocating for the use of alcohol to reduce your risk of heart attack or strokes because of other concerning effects of alcohol on health.

Warren:

With over 20 years of experience studying brain health, dr Curtis's goal is to educate the village's community on how to live a longer, healthier life. To learn more, visit his website, craigcurtismdcom, or call 352-500-5252 to attend a free seminar.

Mike Roth:

Now you're a Tesla or a Holic. I understand you own two Teslas. Yeah, you couldn't stop at one.

Peter Bernard:

Well, I bought my first one in 2019 while I was still working, and then, when I retired, I was sitting on the couch too much, and so I applied for a part time job at Tesla and I got hired. So I was a Tesla advisor at International Plaza in Tampa and I sold them down there. My job was to get, as they call it, butts in seats for TDs test drives, and I was also told that I was to pre-qualify people, try and figure out if they just wanted to take a ride in a nice car or if they were a real buyer. We had a little secret way of doing that. If they didn't appear to me to be a real customer, I would say we don't have any test drive vehicles right now. I might have five down below in the garage, but I wasn't going to send them out in one. So I became a Tesla fan.

Peter Bernard:

I have a Facebook group it's called Tesla Software and Updates, if you allow the plug. I have 76,000 members and I'm the admin for it. I spend most of my time policing it for stupid posts and ads, which I do not allow, but I go to the Tesla group meetings here in the villages I'm a member of that have adopted me as part of their group very openly. Next session they're going to have me on a panel of experts, because I'm kind of a software expert on Tesla. I love it. I love Model Y and a Model 3. I love both of them. The Model Y is a performance, so 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds. So if you have a need for speed, that's the way to go. I love it.

Mike Roth:

So when you take the car and you accelerate rapidly, you burn your battery down faster.

Peter Bernard:

You do, but it's not really noticeable. I get 300 miles on a charge. If I lose three to five miles by being a jackrabbit, I don't care. It costs me 11 cents per kilowatt hour to recharge it, so it's not a big deal. Car conditioning takes a little bit and jackrabbit starts to take a little bit. The good news is, when I lift my foot off the accelerator notice I don't say gas pedal it puts some of that power back in the battery for kinetic energy.

Mike Roth:

You're regenerating, that's right. Or it's 80s torque. They call that recuperation, right. We call it regenerative braking. Yes, it's a good feature.

Peter Bernard:

Yeah, good feature.

Mike Roth:

But I was thinking about taking the car out on a real track, like Talladega, you know, with a 34 degree bank. Have you ever driven on a track with a 34 degree bank?

Peter Bernard:

No, and I never will, because I don't trust my driving and I'm not going to have to call the insurance company and say I just wrecked my $66,000 car.

Mike Roth:

Well, you got a problem, you know, because you put your car up on the track at Talladega. You're not covered by insurance. Oh well, there you go. There's an exclusion in your policy. I will not be doing that. I've done it many times. Really, how fast did you get going? Well, first thing, first big discovery was you can't enter a 34 degree bank at less than about 90 miles an hour, because the track will throw you off back to the center. So the instructions on a track like that are real simple Accelerate, turn left, accelerate, turn left, accelerate, turn left, right. And the acceleration helps keep you grounded. Well, yeah, it allows you to ride up the bank and take advantage of the way the track is laid out.

Peter Bernard:

The fastest I've ever gone is 85 and I'm looking in my rearview mirror and I'm just paranoid. I don't want to get a ticket at that speed. That's criminal speed.

Mike Roth:

In today's newspaper, people will be able to figure out when we recorded this show and, yeah, I can say it's what? Is it the 20th?

Warren:

of.

Mike Roth:

February 2024. Front page picture on the Daily Sun was a picture of a laser or radar police officer and while we're shooting people on Route 301. I've always felt that's a little bit unfair, because sometimes speed limits are set way below what the roads are capable of providing and with the light traffic sometimes it makes no sense to have a 45-pile an hour speed.

Peter Bernard:

Yeah, it seems artificially low Going through Middleton these days. I think it's 35 out there and there's hardly any houses there. Now they're building and they're going to be, but right now 35, but I've seen the cops out there stopping people. You're poking along at 35 and you feel like a snail.

Mike Roth:

All right, right, and you go five over and they're going to give you a citation.

Peter Bernard:

Well, I can tell you, as a reporter, I've ridden around with cops a number of times and unofficially they'll give you 10. Yeah, unofficially, some will some won't. Depends on if they've had their coffee in the morning.

Mike Roth:

Right and if they have a so-called quota to hit.

Peter Bernard:

I don't think they do. On that note, I think that attitude counts for a lot. If you're belligerent with them as they approach your car and you don't roll down your window and you're one of these soft sit baloney that you've probably seen on the internet, if you're cooperative and apologize and are nice, you have a better chance of not getting that citation.

Mike Roth:

Oh, that's good advice. That's good advice. So you bought your first Tesla four years ago, 2019. Yep, okay, and why did you buy that first Tesla?

Peter Bernard:

I am a technology nut and I like to follow what's going on with the latest technology. Speaking of nuts, elon Musk can be at times, but I also consider him a genius. My car is essentially a computer with four wheels. Some people have described Tesla as being a computer company that happens to make cars. They also are a computer company that happens to make rocket ships that go up to the International Space Station and drill underneath Las Vegas for a transportation system that they have there. I love technology. My whole house is decked out with voice activated fans and lights. I can turn on my TV with my voice, so my car is an extension of it.

Mike Roth:

Okay, and do you have the latest beta software in your cars? Well, it's all beta software.

Peter Bernard:

The full self-driving is definitely a beta program and they tell you that when you download it. I do not have full self-driving in my car. It's a $12,000 option. I didn't think it was worth it. I have the auto steer autopilot that I have in my car and I use it a lot, especially on I-75 when I visit friends down in Pinellas County. It takes a lot of the fatigue out of driving. You have to babysit it, you have to keep your hand on the wheel at all times. But I love the fact that if something crazy happens and my computer will react faster than I can and I've seen it happen time and time again Somebody does something stupid ahead of you, or they slow or they break and you're not paying attention it will do it for you and even make evasive maneuvers. It's not 100%. There's been a lot of crashes. There's a website or YouTube page called Wham Bam Tesla Cam and you can see the results of some of that, but I love the fact that it might save my life someday.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, I'm a Mercedes-Benz owner and I've always liked this over 40 years, I think, about my first one in 79. Their design philosophy is the car is sacrificial to the human beings inside of it and they build a car like that. It might mean it's going to be more expensive to repair because more parts are going to be broken. Yeah, sounds like Volvo. They do the same thing. Yeah, volvo does a very similar thing. Results to speak for themselves. I've seen many Mercedes drivers that were in serious accidents and they walked away Scott-free none. And over the years my car has been hit several times and I never got really terribly injured.

Peter Bernard:

Yeah, tesla has what they call five-star crash rating from NHTSA, and when I used to sell them, I would bring that up because they'd say, what about? What about? They've got a zillion and one reasons why not to buy the car. And I'd say, well, if you ever get in a wreck, the odds are you're going to walk away.

Mike Roth:

Yeah Well, high safety rating is important, yep, but the design philosophy behind the safety rating, the crumpled zones in the Mercedes, have always made a big difference. The fact that when they have gasoline engines, the engine is designed to slide underneath the passenger compartment Makes all the sense in the world, yep. I think we're going to take a break now and we'll be back Next week with the remainder of the interview with Peter Bernard.

Emily:

Remember our next episode will be released next Friday at 9 am. Should you want to become a major supporter of the show or have questions, please contact us at mikeatrothvoice. c. om. This is a shout out for supporters Tweet Coleman, Ed Williams and major supporter Dr Craig Curtis at K2 in the villages. We will be hearing more from Dr Curtis with short Alzheimer's tips each week. If you know someone who should be on the show, contact us at mikeatrothvoice. com. We thank everyone for listening to the show. The content of the show is copyrighted by Rothvoice 2024, all rights reserved.

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Political System Reform and Reporting Experience
Stories of Impact and Passion
Tesla Enthusiast Discusses Technology and Safety