| viv bernstein
True story. There once was a man named Albert Bratz, who ran illegal brothels in Chicago in the 1920s and ’30s. Bratz and his cousin, Jack Zuta, were accused
of murdering Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle, who might have tried to extort money from the two. Al Capone, hoping to silence Bratz and Zuta before they were questioned by police, put out a contract on their lives. Eventually, Zuta
was taken out machine-gun style in a Wisconsin hotel. Bratz escaped and was never found.

Turns out “Albert Bratz” was an alias. His real name was Eli Zoota, my grandfather.

Needless to say, I was stunned to learn of my family’s involvement in brothels, murder and the mob. But don’t worry. As far as I can tell, we only take shots in print these days …

So welcome to my site and don’t be afraid to poke around. I hope you find something interesting to read.


© 2013 Viv Bernstein


| viv bernstein


From Sports Illustrated: Full Disclosure – Friday was Jeans Day, when most staffers at the Carolina Panthers team offices would wear denim to work. The female employees knew what that meant. Read story

From Charlotte Magazine: Jerry Richardson’s Victims: Why Can’t the Statue Come Down? – A 13-foot statue of Jerry Richardson still stands outside the north gate at Bank of America Stadium. It was meant as a testament to the man who brought the NFL to Charlotte. But for his victims, who faced years of sexual harassment before revelations of illicit behavior and secret payoffs forced Richardson to sell the team, the statue stands as a daily reminder of all they endured. Read story

From The New York Times: Near the Convention Site, Occupy Takes Root – Eric Verlo waved an “Occupy the DNC” flag as he stood among the dozens of tents pitched around Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte in advance of the Democratic National Convention. Read story

From The New York Times: Occupy Movement Looks Toward Political Conventions – Hay and grass seed cover the bare spots on the lawn in front of the stately old City Hall where Occupy Charlotte’s camp held its ground for nearly four months. The occupiers are gone now and the protest movement quieted after arrests, a new anticamping ordinance and, to a degree, the group’s own missteps along the way. But as the grass begins to take root, so does a resilient Occupy Charlotte. Read Story

From The New York Times: Protests Continue on Final Night of Democratic Convention – Five days of marches at the Democratic National Convention brought confrontation and compromise between protesters and the police, and there was a bit of both on Thursday, the final night of the convention. Read story

From The New York Times: A Nascar Star’s Deadly Run-In On a Dirt Track - Tony Stewart, a three-time Nascar champion, was moonlighting Saturday night. He had gone back to his racing roots for a few hours, competing in a local dirt-track event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York, bumping and sliding his high-powered open-wheel sprint car with the mostly unknown competitors on the track. Read story


From Bleacher Report: Inside the SEC’s New Moneymaker  – Tim Tebow sports a stylish gray suit as he settles into his seat in a television studio in this nondescript one-story office building in suburban Charlotte. If there is a football uniform in his future, Tebow isn’t going to find it here, deep inside ESPN’s Southern base of operations. Read story

From The New York Times: Confederate Flags Crash Nascar’s Plan for a Homecoming – Throwback paint schemes on racecars and retro logos and signs welcomed Nascar fans when they arrived at Darlington Raceway this weekend for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 Sprint Cup race. The marketing campaign was designed to make one of the most storied tracks on the circuit look like the early 1970s all over again. Fans were more than happy to complete the picture, much to Nascar’s dismay. The Confederate flags they raised on R.V.s across the infield and outside the track dotted the sky above Darlington on Friday morning, as they have for decades here. Read story

From The New York Times: Ten Years On, Nascar Yearns for Another Intimidator – The Nascar circuit makes its pilgrimage to Daytona International Speedway twice every year, visits that inevitably rank among the highlights of any season. But not for the racecar owner Richard Childress. Each time he drives through the tunnel to the infield and looks at the track around him, Childress finds himself staring at perhaps the most sorrow-filled stretch of pavement on that hallowed ground. Read story

From The New York Times: Christian Values Meet Athletic Scandal - Red brick buildings, neatly trimmed lawns and river birch trees dot the campus of Gardner-Webb University in the heart of this small, Bible Belt town. Gardner-Webb was founded as a Baptist college and is known historically for producing teachers and preachers. Alcohol is banned, the student honor code is posted in every classroom and no building eclipses the steeple of Dover Chapel. It is hard to imagine a setting less likely to produce a scandal over manipulating a top basketball player’s grade point average. Read story


From Medium: Duke Lacrosse, the alt-right and me – I have watched the rise of the alt-right movement in this country with a mix of shock, anguish and fear. And now, suddenly, a pang of guilt. Read story

From jersey/slant: ESPN, suicide and a story I’ve never told before – I was once assigned to write a feature story on a high profile, nationally known professional athlete who kept getting into trouble. What was wrong with this guy? I talked to former coaches and anyone in his hometown who knew him back when the athlete was in high school. Through that reporting, I learned a shocking family secret. Read story

From The New York Times: Reporter has Thirst for Speed – After witnessing the quick acceleration, the drafting technique and the three-wide passes during a two-hour sprint last year from Darlington, S.C., to Charlotte, N.C., a fellow motorsports writer offered me the ultimate compliment. She called me a racer. Sadly, North Carolina’s state troopers have made a similar discovery. I recently spent four hours at a defensive driving class after receiving a ticket — on my way to a Nascar race, no less. Read story

From jersey/slant: The Merry Jews of Nascar – Somebody with a sharp wit and way too much time on his hands created JewsWhoLikeNascar.com. Go ahead, click on it. You’ll laugh. Yes, Nascar was born in the Bible Belt South. And racing and religion are inseparable. Each weekly driver’s meeting ends with a prayer and every pre-race ceremony includes an invocation. Goyishe sport, right? Oy! Would you believe there are enough Jews in Nascar to fill an Adam Sandler song? And then some. Read story


| viv bernstein
Please note that these archives of my work are maintained by media outlets and any changes or deletions are beyond my control.



| viv bernstein
From the Democratic National Convention to the Daytona 500, I covered a little bit of everything in 14 years as a regular contributor to The New York Times. Included in over 1,000 bylines was a Page One news story on the racetrack accident involving NASCAR star Tony Stewart in which another driver was killed, the rape accusation against members of the
Duke lacrosse team, features in the Politics section on the Occupy movement in Charlotte and numerous stories on auto racing, football, basketball, tennis, soccer, hockey and other sports.

That’s maybe the best part of this work: the unpredictability of it. You never

know when you’ll get an assignment to interview a legend like Billie Jean King or be called upon to knock on Paula Broadwell’s door. Or assist a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter in tracking down a witness with information about a murder.

The most impactful story I wrote was for Sports Illustrated. I shared a byline with Jon Wertheim on the investigative piece that revealed Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, one of the most powerful owners in the NFL, was sexually harassing his employees and had used a racial slur with a scout. The story led to Richardson’s sale of the team.

Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt quickly to a wide variety of assignments from news to sports, game stories, features or analysis often on short notice and tight deadlines. But I also enjoy longer pieces that allow me to explore issues such as racism in NASCAR or spend time getting to know amazing people like Jason Benetti, the broadcaster who works for ESPN and is the voice of the Chicago White Sox.

I am based in Western North Carolina, with assignments taking me everywhere from California to Florida and Texas to Canada. My primary focus has been sports, and I covered 12 Daytona 500′s in a row as the lead NASCAR writer for the Times. But I’ve also assisted in coverage of the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, wrote about protesters at the DNC and reported on Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA director David H. Petraeus.

More recently, I branched out to politics. I was Communications Director for Phillip Price, the Democratic nominee who ran for Congress in North Carolina’s 11th District in 2018. As a paid staff member, I was the lead writer for the campaign. I rewrote the website, issued press releases, worked with state and local media to facilitate coverage and was the lead contributor to social media.

In addition to my regular contributions to the Times, I have written for many publications and web sites over the years including Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, USA Today, ESPN.com, espnW.com, Charlotte Magazine, Bleacher Report, OZY.com, the Associated Press, NASCAR Illustrated, NASCAR.com, TV Guide Magazine, The Hockey News, NASCAR Scene and others. I also blogged for the wonderful but shortlived TrueSlant.com, which featured Matt Taibbi and Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone among many contributors. I used to blow off steam on my own blog, jersey/slant.

I was previously a staff writer for the Detroit Free Press, Hartford Courant and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. I have covered five Stanley Cup finals, the Super Bowl, the U.S. Open (tennis and golf), the greatest rivalry in sports — Duke vs. North Carolina — and 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments.

Not that I’m counting.


| viv bernstein
Please note that these archives of my work are maintained by media outlets and any changes or deletions are beyond my control. Archived articles from ESPN.com, TrueSlant.com and AOL’s FanHouse.com are no longer available.


| viv bernstein

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