The Fourth Estate is not Mar-a-Lago: The Sacred Duty of the Press

The First Amendment Graphic

The First Amendment. Graphic:

The Fourth Estate (the Press) is not one of  Trump’s real estate properties. It is time for both sides to get back to work.

The Free Press has a sacred place in the American system of government. The Founders knew the extraordinary responsibility they entrusted to the Press to use their reporting as a supreme check and balance to the power of each branch of Government. The First Amendment of our Bill of Rights guarantees that this voice is exercised to preserve, protect and defend our country from the corruption that power can bring. Whether the Press fulfills this responsibility, or that the work is appreciated, is open to question.

The Press has not always lived up to its lofty obligation. History is replete with examples of the Press being used to support a particular opinion or even worse, smear something with which it does not agree. The phrase “Yellow Journalism” comes from the type of press with little or no legitimate research, with sensational headlines driven by the desire to sell newspapers. It dates back to 1895. The issues of fake news or headlines without legitimacy are not new and have been the nemesis that higher quality journalism has fought for a long time. It is also the scourge of government, undermining anything with which it does not agree, slinging mud and being dishonest by misinforming the public.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

Journalism, the kind with higher purpose as envisioned by the Founders, fulfills its legitimate mission to gather and report the facts, as a means of checking government power. It is not the friend of government, rather it often plays an adversarial role. That, however, is not grounds for government officials to cast aspersions on all the press. Its role is to put those officials on notice that, “we, the people, are watching and you officials are ultimately responsible to us.” The recent hard work of the press corps in the matter of Michael Flynn should be viewed as an important step in protecting “We the People.”

“Government of, by, and for the people,” is the extraordinary sacred mission our officials are tasked to do. Ensuring and preserving that is the sacred mission of the Free Press. It is time for everyone to do his or her respective jobs.




  1. says

    The “free press” only remains free because it is allowed to publish views that are unpopular – including views unpopular with the President. Sadly, too many people choose not to read or not to believe the mainstream press. Instead they seek out the views that they agree with on the blogosphere or on TV “news” that amounts to voice-over, nothing more. We need to get back to reading and thinking hard about what we read!

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