THE FOUNDERS, FREEDOM AND THE FOURTH BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT TODAY

by Nadeen Wincapaw

Unless the mainstream press wake up and make a huge shift in their paradigm, they will be cast to the dustbin of history or folded into our already monstrous bureaucracy as the United States’ own version of Pravda.

 

The United States was born out of the Enlightenment.  The founding documents were the philosophical descendants of Cicero, Burke, and others whose writings were studied and expanded by the likes of Jefferson, Madison, and Mason.

The founders set up a framework for a government that allowed as much personal freedom as possible, while providing the necessary minimal requirements for the federal government.

After drafting the skeleton of a national governing body, the framers turned to Madison and Mason to write a set of amendments which protected certain aspects of life, liberty, and property for the citizens (1).

The first amendment contains provisions for freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion.  Each of these freedoms can be summed up collectively as freedom of conscience.  Thomas Jefferson trusted the individual citizen even when governments would fail; therefore, it was vital to protect the people’s right to express their opinions (2).  Jefferson also cautioned future generations that the freedom of speech “cannot be limited without being lost” (3).  And, how often today, are our youth willing to simply hand over their rights in order to obtain a few privileges?

Of the five freedoms specified in the first amendment, press was given the specific decree to be the unofficial fourth branch of government and act as watchdog (4).  It was intended to help keep the government’s leaders in check by informing the citizenry of potential abuses and encroachments to liberty.

 It is no secret that those seeking power seek to control information, usually as their first priority in assuming dominance.  Jerrold Post, George Washington University’s director of Political Psychology, confirmed that premise when he stated, “controlling information and controlling dissent are part of what goes into maintaining a totalitarian state,” (5).  Why, then, would our mainstream media hand over their mandate so readily?

I believe that t his began in the early 1900’s when journalism schools were begun and the formal “training” began at universities.  Truly, it was a multi-faceted approach by the elites in power in order to get the media on their side.  Unfortunately, the media jumped in with both feet without a second thought.

At one time, individual newspapers around the country would have beat reporters who went out and collected stories.  Very few stories were borrowed or copied; if a newspaper wanted to print a story, dig up dirt on a politician, or expose a situation, the newspaper sent their own reporter to do the work.  Reporters made names for themselves exposing child labor, slum living, and prison conditions; and politicians used to fear the press.

Until the progressive movement. Progressive politicians like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson courted favor with reporters, editors, and media owners by hosting dinners, press conferences, and exclusive events.  This began tendering their hearts… and then came the push to “train” reporters through schools of higher learning.  By discrediting certain reporters as uneducated and untrained, progressives propped up the Ivory Tower as the only “fix” to correcting the problems in the media.  Schools of journalism began popping up around the country and eventually, the elites were training those sent to keep them accountable.  Isn’t that like having the children train the nannies?

The mainstream media, as it is today, is a dying breed.  Alternative sources are quickly becoming the go-to place for the newest news seekers.  Even though it is hardly balanced, alternative sources rarely claim to be.  Mainstream media claim a non-bias while at the same time sneaking in snide comments and hidden meanings.

People are hungry for truth and will turn to those that don’t hide what they really think, and that is why I believe the media have let us down and alternative media is rising to take its place.  Unless the mainstream press wake up and make a huge shift in their paradigm, they will be cast to the dustbin of history or folded into our already monstrous bureaucracy as the United States’ own version of Pravda.

 

1.  “Who Wrote the Bill of Rights?” 2013. Laws.com. Web. 4 May 2014. <http://constitution.laws.com/who-wrote-the-bill-of-rights&gt;.

2.  Jefferson, Thomas. “Quotations on Education.” 2014. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Web. 4 May 2014. <http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-education&gt;.

3.  The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. April 2014. Web. 30 April 2014. <http://tjcenter.org/&gt;.

4.  Paul, Shawn. “The Fourth Estate or For the State?” 9 March 2013. Western Journalism. Web. 4 May 2014. <http://www.westernjournalism.com/the-fourth-estate-or-for-the-state/&gt;.

5.  “How Dictators Keep Control.” 21 December 2011. Discovery News. Web. 4 May 2014. <http://news.discovery.com/human/dictators-control-psychology-111221.htm&gt;.

 


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