Has the Fourth Estate Elevated Itself to Ruling Class?
For 25 years I have made my living in public relations. Over the years I have established relationships with members of the New York City Press Corps who have allowed me to pitch story ideas. The stories that get picked up must pass intense scrutiny by reporters and editors who look for facts to back up my claims – that’s because the New York City Press Corps consists of the savviest people the “fourth estate” has ever known – upholding their responsibility to report the unbiased truth to the masses at all times.
Hundreds of years ago, the press was dubbed the “fourth estate” because it shared a relationship of trust with the “people”, whereas the first, second and third estates represent the elite and ruling classes who often use propaganda to keep the “people” in check. The trust between the “people” and the press is so strong that our founding fathers included the right of free speech in the American Bill of Rights. They wanted all Americans, especially the press, to feel free to speak out against their government without fear of arrest or retribution. That relationship was the focus of a recent movie titled, “The Post” based on a 1971 landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court that made it possible for The New York Times and The Washington Post to report on the top secret “Pentagon Papers” without risk of censorship or punishment from the Nixon Whitehouse.
Preserving the trust between the fourth estate and the masses is so important that reporters and editors have gone to jail to protect their sources, that’s why I find it sadly ironic that in today’s society the press is calling on the President to edit his words to protect the fourth estate.
It began in 2015 when candidate Trump coined the phrase, “fake news”, accusing the New York Times and other news outlets of promoting Hillary Clinton while criticizing him. At the time I sided with the media because I shuddered at the thought of what would happen if the fourth estate began to exercise its power to direct the masses instead of inform us. Unfortunately, after the election I was forced to accept the truth that the fourth estate had broken its trust with the American people when it shamelessly began treating the President and his staff with disdain – the proof of which is evident by a recent statement from Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide after a series of bombs were delivered to offices of various news outlets and elected officials. The statement was issued via Tweet from @CNNPR and read, “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
Mr. Zucker, is absolutely right – words do matter and his words are hypocritical. Just as The New York Times and The Washington Post stood up to protect free speech, even if it meant exposing government secrets and jeopardizing those fighting in the Vietnam War, every American, including the President, has the right to criticize those in power. Unfortunately, the entity in power in this case “IS” the fourth estate because it has clearly shown its open disdain for the American public and their choice of President.
Mr. Zucker prefers to blame President Trump for the negative perception of the press rather than admit that the fourth estate has breached its trust with the masses by using propaganda and public shaming to force people to succumb to political correctness.
Critics of President Trump say that he has lowered the standard of the office with his Tweets and rallies. Perhaps that is the natural by-product of the fourth estate elevating itself to “ruling” class.