The fourth and fifth estates

Whether Thomas Carlyle or Edmund Burke should have the credit for the original use of the expression , the fourth estate, it is now used Stateside to refer to the ‘regular’ meeja, alongside the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The fifth estate, which began life in the ’60s, is the new meeja: special interests, social media and of course you and me – the bloggers.



Isn’t it interesting that President Trump seems to ignore the (no doubt already blurred) boundaries between the fourth and fifth, to the extent that this happened yesterday at a press meeting, as reported by the Grauniad?

‘Outlets seeking to gain entry whose requests were denied included the Guardian, the New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Daily Mail and others. Conservative publications such as Breitbart News, the One America News Network and the Washington Times were allowed into the meeting, as well as TV networks CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC. The Associated Press and Time were invited but boycotted the briefing.’

Does that infringe the First Amendment? Or does Trump’s idea of ‘fake news’ justify his actions?

Author: janus

I'm back......and front - in sunny Sussex-by-the-sea

13 thoughts on “The fourth and fifth estates”

  1. It does not violate the First Amendment.Press conferences are by invitation-only. Administrations have long favoured friendly media outlets and have restricted access to those deemed hostile. Organisations like BuzzFeed were only invited because they were sure to be adulatory to the Obama Administration, the same applies to the Grauniad and to an extent, Politico. Breitbart and One America Network are sure to give adulatory coverage of Trump, hence favoured access.

  2. Janus: I will need to take my previous comment back.It wasn’t a press conference, it was a press gaggle. A press gaggle is an informal meeting in which journalists have the chance to ask off-camera questions. No outlets were banned, they were simply not invited to that event.

  3. For what it’s worth, I agree with you. The invitations should have been extended as a matter of course. The Mafia Don(ald) has achieved two things with this. The first is that the likes of CNN, the NYT, BBC, etc. have over-reacted and thrown such a hysterical fit that they look like fools. The second is that far more relevant outlets were given chances they would not have had in the past. “Major” organisations often rely on their name recognition, not their actual influence. The NYT are largely discredited and rely on legacy readers of a certain political bent. They would never have voted for Trump, anyway. The BBC are of only marginal influence in the US.

  4. I neither know or care as to the legality of this affair. However, the view from here (me) is that to exclude mainstream media of a differing political bias on this scale smacks of a level of chicanery that is generally indulged in by those attempting to establish a dictatorship! A nice little first step so to speak.

    Equally whilst I am against illegal immigration, the plan was to implement the statutes already on the book, ie, to deport felons, that was one thing most agreed with. However, this has been curiously extended to all and sundry who may have dropped a sweet paper on a side walk! (OK minor hyperbole, but not by much!)

    Both the above are a step too far in my opinion and indicate an inalienable attempt at despotism.
    One wonders if he will get away with it? Wouldn’t like to place my bets on it just yet.

  5. Tina.

    Once again I agree with you! One wonders if his promise to drain the swamp is in order to establish his own vested interests in it! I don’t really understand why some Americans are not more wary of this sort of move: a too powerful executive trying to control mainstream media access because he doesn’t like their opinions, not to mention his battle with the judiciary, the security services and goodness who else. Quite bizarre.

  6. I agree with CT, possibly dissenting just a teensy bit regarding the New York Times.

    This is not, to the best of my recollection, the first time something like this has been done, nor do I expect that it will be the last. Somewhat more blatant in this case than usual, but that’s probably down to personal style. Within my memory, seating arrangement in the conference/”gaggle” room has been used to more subtly reflect the favour (or lack thereof) in which the various media outlets are held. Friendly faces forward, others in far corners or, if possible, behind a column. Most often, those considered “hostile” or seen to be deviating from impartial reporting are simply ignored when questions are taken from the floor. The only President we’ve got does at least seem to know enough to play to his supporters.

    None of this explains why, although every survey ever taken of newspaper readership in New York City shows a majority claiming to read The New York Times, it’s a tabloid that has the city’s largest actual circulation.

    I’m keeping an open mind regarding His Presidensity’s dictatorial ambitions. Although he has shown obvious signs of wanting to run the nation in as autocratic a manner as he apparently runs his businesses, there have recently been just a few signs of his learning that other approaches may be more productive. It’s unfortunate that he’s not one to ever back down completely. Waffle, weasel and slide after the fact, perhaps, but never admit that he needs to rethink something. I doubt whether the American people would stand for any heavy-handed attempt to impose a dictatorial regime… provided they woke up in time.

    If the BBC’s influence in the USA is “marginal,” they have only themselves to blame. There was a time when Americans regarded the BBC as a sort of Gold Standard among news media, much as British justice was greatly admired even by those unfamiliar with its differences from our own system. These days, BBC America have marginalized themselves by using retreaded USA series to fill too much of the time between broadcasts of their really good stuff (e.g., *Victoria*). What does come this way in the name of BBC “news” is simply too little and, often, consists of not much besides lefty-fodder such as the plight of children in some Third World sinkhole. (I can practically hear in my sleep the oleaginously lugubrious, mock-sorrowful sound of announcers intoning, “These children have not eaten in six months.”)

  7. Cog, ignoring your disapproval of Auntie Beeb, I think the only one you’ve got has akshully done a U-turn on Europe, hasn’t he? So now -as I feel with any talented salesman – my reaction is: you’ve got my attention, so what are you really going to do? And not just about Europe, everything.

  8. Janus: BBC America is rather different from the BBC you know. At one point it was relatively decent, but it has become as fresh as week-old lettuce in recent years.

    Cog: The New York Times were at one point a great paper that was respected by people of most political persuasions. Even after their political tone became a bit too Bolshie their music, literature, travel and culture sections remained well-regarded. Partially through poor business decisions and planning they watered-down the quality of what was still respected. Then again, blessed Auntie Beeb makes me want to tear out clumps of hair because she, too, has watered-down the quality of these sections. There are still some writers but, like the Telegraph, the quality has really suffered in recent years. Oh, to resurrect Betjeman…

  9. Of all the people to define fake news it seems to me that Mr. Trump is the worst offender. I do believe that limiting press access to only those who agree with you is a step toward controlling the 4th (and 5th) estate and can be a dangerous road to travel. I will see how this plays out but this ‘first step’ concerns me. (I would like to be added as an author for Boadicea’s Chariot.)

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