One of the most chilling realities of the contemporary age in the United States and other Western nations is the demise of the Fourth Estate. The death of a vigorous and free press came when mainstream media and other vital components of the information establishment became propaganda organs for the government.
“If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without a free press or a free press without a government, I would prefer the latter,” said Thomas Jefferson.Edmund Burke, an 18th century British political philosopher, seeded the concept of the Fourth Estate.
The “three estates” present in the Parliament were the king, the lords, and the commons. But, said Burke, there was a “fourth estate” that trumped them all – the press.The contemporary co-opting of journalists and journalism by politicians and their regimes has led to a polarization of media. As mainstream print and broadcast journalists have veered increasingly to the left, the right has responded with its own conservative media establishment.This was a necessary development, vital for countering leftist propaganda.
But the demise of the Fourth Estate means there’s not much left in the middle to probe for the truth buried somewhere beneath the shrills and shills of left and right. Who can the people trust to give them the plain, unspun facts?Journalistic agenda-ism has suffocated the Fourth Estate. And that brings danger to what is slowly becoming less and less a free republic.
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