Propaganda Is Destroying Trust In The Fourth Estate and Wreaking Havoc On Society

Let’s start this essay with some generalities about the Fourth Estate.

The term Fourth Estate refers to the press and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues. Though it is not formally recognized as a part of a political system, it wields significant indirect social influence. An unbiased fourth estate is considered by most people as being vital to a functioning democracy because it provides the general public the information they need to know to develop rational opinions and make personal choices based the available facts and information.

The press and the media has long been guided by some ethical standards for journalists that I think are covered nicely in Jim Lehrer’s 16 Rules Of Journalism (source):

  1. Do nothing I cannot defend.
  2. Do not distort, lie, slant, or hype.
  3. Do not falsify facts or make up quotes.
  4. Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  5. Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  6. Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and good a person as I am.
  7. Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  8. Assume everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
  9. Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story mandates otherwise.
  10. Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label them as such.
  11. Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  12. Do not broadcast profanity or the end result of violence unless it is an integral and necessary part of the story and/or crucial to understanding the story.
  13. Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible but fairness never is.
  14. Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations should be disciplined by their employers.
  15. My viewers have a right to know what principles guide my work and the process I use in their practice.
  16. I am not in the entertainment business.

Here is another source of ethical standards for journalists; Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Since power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely ethical standards are the kinds of guidelines that journalists and others in the media need to follow when the press and the media in general wield their inherent power of the rhetorical sword.

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”  

Malcolm X 

The media has long been recognized as a very powerful political and cultural tool and as such it’s a tool that when ethical and moral standards are not appropriately applied to the journalism profession that’s controlling the media, unethical and immoral people can wield the power to intentionally manipulate society as a whole instead of simply informing the public of the facts and information. The ability of the press to manipulate the masses is well known word-wide and unfettered power by unscrupulous people wielding that power can be devastating to a society. Again, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely and the media is the closest thing to absolute power as we can get in society without using physical force.

The public is literally at the mercy of the press. Society has absolutely no choice as to what the press chooses to present to the masses. The only choice the masses have when faced with a press that’s behaving unethically is to choose a different source. What happens when all, or nearly all, of the available media sources are behaving unethically, in cahoots with one political party and are knowingly presenting propaganda tainted information to the masses as if it’s fact? Remember, an unbiased fourth estate is vital to a functioning democracy so, if the Fourth Estate is no longer unbiased, it’s not functioning in a journalistic ethical manner and choosing instead to present partisan biased propaganda then the Fourth Estate is a cancer, or an extremely infectious virus, that’s being used to intentionally infect and manipulate society. When the Fourth Estate becomes an outlet for partisan biased propaganda then the Fourth Estate becomes an enemy to democracy and therefore an enemy to the people in a democracy.

Now let’s shift from generalities to something a bit more specific, the last four years (2016-2020) of our highly emotionally charged political environment.

Since the moment in 2016 when President Trump was called President Elect until today, four years later, the majority of the mainstream media has put themselves 100% inline with the political left and in direct conflict with President Trump. For four years straight, the mainstream media, and the political left in general, have attacked the President of the United States with endless propaganda, accusations, innuendo, etc, etc. President Trump did not create the left’s hate, bigotry, irrational aversion to truth and facts, anti-American and anti-Constitution ideological leanings, leaning towards totalitarianism, bastardization of words and symbols, anti-history stance, anti-social behaviors, anti-respect, anti-logic, anti-critical thinking, and anti-civility or the left’s Pravda like propaganda media machine. All President Trump had to do was voice an opinion, any opinion, and the media immediately jumped on the “Orange Man Bad” wagon and attacked his opinion. Everything the President did and does regardless if it’s legal or within the powers of the President of the United States was and is attacked as being illegal, corrupt or impeachable. The political left pushed their hateful propaganda all the way to a unconstitutional and politically embarrassing partisan witch-hunt circus and they had the gall to turn into an actual impeachment that failed in the United States Senate. To be sure, President Trump has a loose cannon unethical mouth and a unique ability to present things to the public in such a way that pours volatile fuel on the unquenchable fires of hate that the political left has built using the kindling of partisan biased propaganda. I think the last four years is likely going to go down in history as the most contentious political period between an openly biased anti-President hostile press and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) and the President of the United States since the United States was conceived by the founders in 1776.

The propaganda problem infecting the Fourth Estate is so damned bad in the 21st century that President Obama, a staunch far left Liberal that actually benefited from a partisan biased propaganda laced press and media, is now publicly calling it out for what it is. President Obama sat down with author and former PEN America president Ron Chernow for a wide-ranging interview on being a writer; the power of the pen; and the freedom to write.  When Obama was asked about the relationship between the President and the press and can we get back to a more civil relationship between the two, President Obama stated the following interesting perspective, here is the statement in its entirety…

By definition the press should be a little bit of a thorn in the side of power and in the United States that means poking and prodding of the President and President’s don’t like being poked and prodded all the time and I record in my book all the times I think the press was unfair to me. But, what I never lost sight of and what I think has been our tradition is the recognition that the fourth estate is vital to a functioning democracy. The notion that you would threaten them or call them an enemy of the state or try to delegitimize a press that does the job of fact checking and expecting evidence when you float accusations. That kind of bullying behavior we haven’t seen to the extent that we’ve seen it recently.

The good news is I think that you’re going to have a new administration that level-sets back to the norm. 

The bigger challenge I think Ron is going to be what is happening inside the press itself. The dissolution of journalistic standards that we had all come to expect in mainstream media, a lot of that has crumbled. And so what you now have is a variety of very powerful news outlets that have no problem not just repeating falsehoods or misinformation but disseminate them themselves. And the lines have blurred now between propaganda and what we would consider journalism in a way that has been described as truth decay.

You’ve got an epistemological problem where people don’t know now entirely what’s true and what’s not. And the old authorities and curators of what is factual are greatly weakened. And that’s dangerous for our democracy. And I don’t think that’s going to be solved just by a new President. I think internally news organizations and all of us culturally are going to have to think about what to do about that.

How do we preserve freedom of the press when you’ve got an internet which somebody who denies climate change or promotes wild conspiracy theories can put up a website and is getting as many viewers as the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal? And if that’s the case, and people can choose whatever news or facts that fit their opinion, rather than having their opinions fit the facts, can we still have a functioning marketplace of ideas?

If you ask me about one of the things that I’m most worried about long-term for democratic values this is the one.

Link To Video

President Barack Obama

The fact that President Obama thought this was a big enough problem to bring up in a public interview knowing the fact that it was surely going to roll back on the actions of the political left over the last four years is signature significant that the problem is extremely bad and he thought it was worth the political risk to spend some of his enormous political clout to out the problem from the perspective of a Democrat.

This propaganda problem is the most serious problem we have in the United States right now! It’s a bigger problem than the unsupportable accusations made by Black Lives Matter, but the propaganda is fueling it; it’s way more problematic than the myriad of ANTIFA members assaulting those they oppose, but the propaganda is fueling it; it’s more important than the utterly irrational movement to defund the police, but the propaganda is fueling it; it’s more important than the riots that we’ve seen in the last eight months, but the propaganda is fueling it; it’s more important than all the personal and political hate leveled at President Trump over the last four years, but the propaganda is fueling it. The problem is that unethical and immoral partisan biased propaganda is a direct threat to an unbiased Fourth Estate and therefore it’s an indirect threat to the thing we hold most dear here in the United States of America – liberty!

Propaganda emanating from the media is an enemy of the people!

Propaganda is an existential threat, it’s a freedom eating malignant cancer consuming the core commonalities that support the entire premise of liberty in the United States of America and trying to turn us into a cultish hive mind.

“That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”

Popeye

Without suppressing free speech, something needs to be done to stop all the propaganda.

Give me liberty or give me death!

Featured Photo: Photo From A New York Times Article “We’re not enemies of the people”

17 thoughts on “Propaganda Is Destroying Trust In The Fourth Estate and Wreaking Havoc On Society

  1. Selectively not reporting important events may be just as damaging as presenting a biased version of something.

    President Trump enjoyed poking the Bear but unfortunately that proclivity was not adequately offset by promulgating his accomplishments.

    -fine post

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Instead of feuding with obviously biased reporters during Press Conferences, Trump could have slowly, deliberately, recited things he did, is doing, and their effects and intended effects. Missed opportunities.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Absolutely!
            Just saying that while he had/has the bully pulpit, could have made better use of it as a way to counteract the biased media. McEnany is pretty darn good but does she enumerate his accomplishments? Don’t know, haven’t been watching.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article, as usual.

    Imagine how different our political landscape would look if we had a working media and a big tech industry that didn’t censure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Somehow The Gotch’s auto-delivery is on the fritz.

    Anywho, the latest salvo in Lefty’s desire to inspire that they be eradicated from polite society.

    Minnesota Resident’s Christmas Light Display Shamed For HARMFUL IMPACT To Community In Anonymous Letter

    Every Normal Man Must Be Tempted, At Times, To Spit On His Hands, Hoist The Black Flag, And Begin Slitting Throats. H. L. Mencken.

    NOW’S one of those times…and The Gotch can resist anything…but temptation…

    The Gotch

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is sad that so many Americans are unable to distinguish between what is real and what is propaganda. How many American’s believe that WWE is real wrestling and that the moon landing was faked? Media outlets have realized that propaganda or fake news is very profitable. The more outrageous the story receives the most viewership. The popularity of fake reality shows like the real housewives, keeping Up with the Kardashians etc make me question the intelligence of the average American.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rico Dilello wrote, “It is sad that so many Americans are unable to distinguish between what is real and what is propaganda.”

      One of the problems contributing to that is the K-12 public education systems are steered toward teaching a narrow-viewed constantly decreasing level of functional knowledge so it fits all students, even the stupid students, and it seems to discourage critical thinking and encourage indoctrinated conformity. When you dumb down an entire education system the meet the stupidest students can get passing grades then everyone that attends that education system suffers a higher level of knowledge ignorance and an decreased ability to think critically. Dumbing down the whole system to meet the needs of the stupidest students is not logical and it’s an immoral disservice to the students that are not stupid.

      There was a book called The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America written by Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt back in 1972 that discussed this problem. Iserbyt was tarred as a wacko conspiracy theorist but it turns out that some of the things she wrote about seem to be coming true.

      This discussion about why propaganda works is certainly related to the problems of propaganda that I wrote about but it’s really an entirely different discussion.

      Like

    2. Rico,
      Also, please don’t judge those here in the United States based on a skewed perch outside the USA. There are loads of ignorant “Americans” all over North America including Canada and Mexico, there are also a hell of a lot of intelligent people that vastly outnumber the stupid people just like where you live. These are not just problems in the United States, it’s becoming a world wide problem and it’s because there are ignorant people pushing and supporting some really irrational “politically correct” policies in our education system.

      P.S. I have some friends in your neck of the woods, roughly 33k north.

      Like

  5. I used to be a big fan of America. However, it is hard not to lose faith in America today. It seems that facts no longer matter, its okay for cable news companies to spew lies. Thousands of Americans are dying ever day and people are lined up for hours hoping to get food to feed their children. What is Mitch McConnell doing, playing politics.?

    Like

    1. Rico Dilello wrote, “I used to be a big fan of America. However, it is hard not to lose faith in America today.”

      Stop saying America, say USA; Canada and Mexico are also part of America.

      What has caused you to loose faith in the USA?

      Rico Dilello wrote, “It seems that facts no longer matter, its okay for cable news companies to spew lies.”

      Now you’re starting to come around to what this blog post is about, the lying and manipulative propaganda.

      Rico Dilello wrote, “Thousands of Americans are dying ever day and people are lined up for hours hoping to get food to feed their children.”

      Thousands of people die every day for all kinds of reasons, what’s your point? Read this…

      https://stevewitherspoon.home.blog/2020/11/28/utilitarianism-censorship-johns-hopkins-newsletter-retraction-is-a-sign-of-a-cancerous-growth-destroying-our-society/

      Rico Dilello wrote, “What is Mitch McConnell doing, playing politics?

      You must at least consider that you too are actually a victim of the massive propaganda campaigns, almost all the media outlets in the United States are blatantly partisan favoring the political left. All you’re hearing or reading across the media is that Mitch McConnel is not doing his job and you don’t hear that Nancy Pelosi is not doing her job either; when in fact, both of them are doing their job to press their agenda and throttle back the opposing agenda. If you think Mitch McConnel is the only reason that some things aren’t getting done then you’ve consumed too much of the political left’s partisan propaganda.

      When was the last time you actually heard from the left leaning media that President Trump did something worthwhile that they agree with; they will not tell you the whole truth only their spun versions, that Rico is NOT what journalism is supposed to be, that’s partisan propaganda. As far as the left leaning media is concerned, President Trump hasn’t done a damn thing but yet there are bipartisan bills passed and signed into law by the President all the time. The political left refuses to acknowledge any of President Trumps accomplishments, even if they disagree with some things they are still accomplishments. The political left media in the USA are full of manipulative propagandist liars.

      Like

Leave a Reply to Liberty Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.