The Fourth Estate on Steroids

The Fourth Estate on Steroids

The term Fourth Estate refers to the press. The term goes back to at least the first half of the 19th century when Thomas Carlyle in his book, On Heroes and Hero Worship, spoke of British politician, Edmund Burke:

“Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament;
but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder,
there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

If, indeed, Burke did make the statement Carlyle attributes to him, then in this context, the other three estates were: the church, the nobility and the commoners.

In the latter part of the century, Oscar Wilde added:

“In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press.
That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad,
and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody —
was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate.
That was true at the time no doubt.
But at the present moment it is the only estate.
It has eaten up the other three.
The Lords Temporal say nothing,
the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say,
and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it.
We are dominated by Journalism.”

Today, the Fourth Estate on Steroids controls all things political.  What was once just; press, Reporters’ Gallery or journalism, now encompasses the Networks, Cable TV and the Internet!

The average American voter does not study at Oxford or take Political Science at Harvard, but develops his or her keen political philosophy based on the sound bite (by definition: a brief recorded statement [as by a public figure] broadcast especially on a television news program; also : a brief catchy comment or saying).  Or, as I like to phrase it:

“He, who controls the sound bite, controls the body politic.” 

This brings us to ABC, CBS and NBC.

Now, the first thing you are going to say is “What about Cable and the Internet?”  I fully appreciate that the informed electorate use all of the many sources available to them to become better educated and to understand what is going on around them.  The average American voter however, which was 53% in the last election, flips around to one of the major Networks to soak in a little politics after a hard day of watching soaps and standing in line at the Welfare Office.

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) was created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, and is part of the Disney-ABC Television Group owned by The Walt Disney Company.  Robert (Bob) Iger is currently the CEO and is known as a liberal with political aspirations.  At the annual Disney meeting just this past year, one shareholder alleged that a critically acclaimed, widely viewed docudrama that ties in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing with the 9/11 attacks had not been released on DVD because Iger was protecting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and her husband’s legacy.  Iger has been a consistent and steady contributor to Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) as well as the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees.

Leaders set the tone for organizational clarity and ABC’s Political Director, Mark Halperin was not lost on the message.  In what is now an infamous “leaked memo,” Halperin made it perfectly clear whose side ABC “News” was going to be on in the 2004 presidential election:

  • “It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns – and our responsibilities become quite grave.”
  • “We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn’t mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides equally accountable when the facts don’t warrant that.” 
  • “I’m sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.”
  • “It’s up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.”  

Although the name and owner has changed several times in the past few years, CBS Corporation (CBS) is a media conglomerate focused on broadcasting, publications, billboards and television production.  Sumner M. Redstone, owner of National Amusements, is CBS’s major shareholder and serves as Chairman of the Board.  Viacom, that many people believe own CBS, is actually a separate corporation, also controlled by National Amusements.  Apparently Mr. Redstone distributes his political dollars to both sides of the aisle.  To be fair to the Chairman, most of the media bias at CBS has been there since Dan Rather was a news correspondent reporting on the Kennedy Assassination in Dallas.

After more than 20 years as a journalist and commentator for CBS, Bernard Goldberg, finally came clean in his book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.  He put it simply:

  • “There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

Formed in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was the first major broadcast network in the United States. In 1986, control of NBC passed to General Electric (GE), with GE’s $6.4 billion purchase of RCA.   The network is currently part of the media company NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric (80%) and Vivendi (20%).  Jeffrey Immelt is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of GE and Jeff Zucker is President and CEO of NBC Universal.

Bill O’Reilly has led a campaign to expose the bias at NBC along with other members of the Fourth Estate on Steroids:

  • “A new low has been reached in the media – the New York Times printed a cartoon showing the Statue of Liberty holding a whip, ready to strike. The two men responsible are publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and editor Bill Keller, who are on a jihad to define America as a gulag nation. They’re aided and abetted by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC News president Jeff Zucker, who allow their commentators to push a hateful, far-left agenda. Finally, ACLU leader Anthony Romero and billionaire George Soros are pouring money and legal challenges into telling the world that America abuses human rights. These six men are doing an enormous amount of damage to the country, but why? The reason is simple: If show trials for the Bush administration happen, they will marginalize the Republican Party, national security hawks, and conservative thinkers for decades. And it’s getting worse – the Obama administration will soon release photographs of military investigations into prisoner abuse. The ACLU, which sued to get the pictures released, wants to inflame the world against the USA. That will put our troops and diplomats in even more danger and make it harder for the Obama administration to get help from other countries. All of us should hold these America-haters accountable.”

As O’Reilly points out, journalists with a liberal bias don’t just work in television.  In 2008, John Perazzo, writing in, presented major research findings regarding the underlying beliefs of news media professionals:

  • Between 90 and 97 percent of news media professionals have consistently affirmed themselves to be pro-choice on the matter of abortion, with more than half of the respondents agreeing that abortion should be legal under any and all circumstances.
  • Between 6 and 8 percent attended religious services regularly, a tiny fraction of the corresponding rate for the public at large.
  • Fully 81 percent of news media professionals favor affirmative action in business and academia.
  • More than half of respondents said that adultery could be acceptable under certain circumstances; only 15 percent said it was always wrong.
  • Between 67 and 76 percent were opposed to prayer being permitted in public schools.
  • In a 2008 survey of 144 journalists nationwide, journalists were 8 times likelier to make campaign contributions to Democrats than to Republicans. 
  • A 2008 Investors Business Daily study put the campaign donation ratio at 11.5-to-1, in favor of Democrats. In terms of total dollars given, the ratio was 15-to-1

The next time you hear an obvious political sound bite on the television, take a deep breath, look to your left, think of the Fourth Estate on Steroids and keep count. ♣