Dying 4th Estate

[This is very long and is Version I. It is being revised, but I wanted to get this posted. Version 2 will follow]

The founders of our Constitution laid the bedrocks of our nation in the three branches of government: Congress, the Executive branch, and the Judiciary. They built in many checks and balances to prevent any one branch of government from becoming all powerful. Following ratification by the states, the government under the U.S. Constitution began on March 4th, 1789. Congress then did one more thing. In September 1789, they adopted the Bill of Rights and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of the 12 amendments were ratified by December 1791. The United States of America began its journey.

The first of the amendments to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The founders knew government by the people could not continue without the free flow of information, news, and opinion. They knew people must be free to worship as they might choose. They knew people must be able to “peaceably” gather together to discuss and express individual and collective thought. They knew there must be a press — in those days only the printed press — that is free to bring facts, news, and opinion to the people. They knew. The “Fourth Estate” was born.

Two quotes are attributed to President Thomas Jefferson. The first is, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”. The second: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”.

What has happened to the Fourth Estate, the press? The Fourth Estate is no longer only the printed press but includes the electronic press. It has for decades. The so-called “national press” (the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC) have become weaponized. They spew gossip and propaganda every day in a steady stream. They hide behind anonymous sources and deep state leakers. They consistently violate about every principle of true journalism. They can no longer be called journalists but rather have become more like the Nazi propagandists of days of old. They cannot be trusted.

In the decades before the consolidation of ownership of the media — print and electronic — there were hundreds and hundreds of independently owned newspapers and radio stations in this country. This was true until about the 1980’s when consolidation accelerated. Before then, the hundreds went together to support the Associated Press and United Press International reporters who covered events in the nation and around the world in honorable, forthright, and truthful ways. The hundreds demanded that the highest principles of journalism be followed. In those days, radio and early television stations relied largely upon the stories printed in local newspapers as their news source. They rewrote what they read for their newscasts.

Fast forward to today. The Washington Post was purchased by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, in 2013 for $250 million. The story goes that he never looked at the accounting records of the Post. Bezos has political ambitions. He abhors President Donald Trump. He wants to be President himself. Most recently, he purchased the biggest home in Washington DC for $23 million. That should tell you something about his future ambitions. And do you think he might have something to say about what appears daily in the Post? The Post qualifies as an example of modern day Yellow Journalism; more fiction and propaganda than truth. Former Publisher Katherine Graham and Editor Ben Bradlee, both deceased, would be appalled at what has become of the Post.

And what about the New York Times? The New York Times has long been regarded within the newspaper industry as a national “newspaper of record”. Nearly 20% of the NYT Company is owned by Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim. The Times has historically been regarded as editorially a liberal newspaper. The last time it endorsed a Republican for President was for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, over 50 years ago. The Times has been used as a teaching tool in university level history and government classes for decades. The issue today is its editorial posture has spilled over into its “news” stories. Like the Post: more fiction and propaganda than truth and more hiding behind anonymous sources.

The electronic cable and television media: they still today rely on what is printed in the Post and the Times as news sources. Every broadcast begins with what headlines and stories are in two newspapers that have become corrupt and instruments of the Democrat Party and extreme liberals. People have become as sick of them as of the Washington DC swamp dwellers.

This nation deserves a free and independent press. It deserves a press that adheres to the highest principles of journalism. Part of these principles include never deliberately distort facts or context. They include identification of sources clearly so the public can judge the reliability and motivations of sources. Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere and explain why anonymity was granted.

We do not today have a “free and independent press” in the New York Times and the Washington Post and the many electronic repeats. We have propagandists. Don’t trust them.

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
This entry was posted in General, Government, Government & Politics, Journalism. Bookmark the permalink.

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