At the risk of offending some who attended public school and enlighten others, there are three branches of government in the United States; Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Supreme Court). As a journalism student at Ohio State University, we were often told of the fourth branch of government.
It is an unofficial branch, called the Fourth Estate. One of the first uses of the term is attributed to Edmund Burke, the Irish Statesman, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787 when he referenced the three estates of parliament, then pointed to the press gallery as the fourth estate that was to hold the other three accountable to the public. As journalism students, we were constantly reminded that we were to stand in the breech with the people to hold government accountable.
This is a stark contrast to the role of the media as described by the U.S. “president” at his last White House Correspondents Dinner. After telling some great jokes, and he was very funny, the “president” struck a serious tone and said of the media: ”
But we’ve always shared the same goal — to root our public discourse in the truth; to open the doors of this democracy; to do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just. And I’ve always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals.
The “president” describes a free press as one that has the same goals as the White House—his administration in particular. This is not a free press.
Trouble is, the Fourth Estate has largely, through years of Communistic and Socialistic brainwashing, has become the lapdog of Leftists, Marxists, Islamists, and anarchists. The press, rather than doing its job of reporting the facts, has become a distinct editorial machine where truth is in the eyes of the beholder.
How else can the government—the White House, break, not enforce or establish new laws with impunity? The answer is found in the “president’s” closing remarks: “So I want to close my final White House Correspondents Dinner by just saying, thank you. I’m very proud of what you’ve done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy.”
One of the greatest insults to a true journalist is to have a public figure say that it has been an honor to work side by side together. It is the very perception of collusion that, in my early days as an investigative reporter, would have been the death nail in keeping my job.
Yet, today, this cozy relationship is applauded. Truth, as the “president” presents it, is his truth, and he is thanking the media for standing for it. When the Fourth Estate abrogates its responsibility and aligns itself with a political ideal, Isaiah 59:14 comes to mind:
“And justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”
It is now the job of you and me—the people, to become the Fourth Estate.
Have a blessed and powerful day!