Chapter 6

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The 5th Estate

 

"All the news that's fit to print." - slogan of the New York Times

      The 5th estate is a term that now refers to the press. The 4th estate originally referred to the press and has itís origins in the French Revolution. In May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the Estates General. The First Estate consisted of three hundred nobles. The Second Estate, three hundred clergy. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners. Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all."

      The 5th esate is based on the understanding that, over the last 50 years, the mass media have systematically failed to act as the critical 4th Estate that they have pretended to be. Instead, they have consistently represented the interests of, and functioned as an integral component of the elites controlling society and determining policy. These are, in fact, the Liberals.

      The press has a critical role to play in Democracy. They are the providers of the information that the public uses to decide on whom to vote for. Thus, the press is supposed to be objective. Bias in the press goes back to the very beginning of our government. Both parties had their own newspapers during the early elections. What was supposed to make this work was that there would be several papers to choose from. Get the ideas and opinions of all papers and then make up your own mind.

      Indeed, most large cities had several papers, typically one liberal and one conservative. But over time more and more cities became one newspaper towns, at least there is only one major paper. This is true today. So is that paper liberal or conservative?

      Papers are businesses who derive their income, not from the sale of papers but from advertising. But high revenue advertising is possible only if the paper has a large circulation. So how do you get people to subscribe to your paper? Well, certainly not by printing things that they object to reading. So papers, as well as radio and TV have to appeal to their audiences as well as try to be objective in their presentations of the news, the facts. This is often difficult to do and if a choice has to be made, itís better to come down on the side of your readerís desires.

      If you look at the famous map of red and blue states you see a lot of blue states, especially along both coasts. But if you look at this map at the county level, the first division of states is counties, then you will see that many blue states are mostly red when seen at the county level. Indeed, the blue part of blue states are the major cities in the state. Itís easy to explain this. Blue represents liberalism and red represents conservatism. Liberals address social issues providing aid to those in need. So where are those in need located? The big cities. Big cities are where the homeless are. Big cities are where the unemployment is. Big cities are where the crime is. Big cities are where the poor are. So big cities are where the Liberals are. Big cities are typically liberal in their political thinking. People in big cities need government involvement in their lives. Rural farmers and small cities typically do not and so tend to be conservative. These people are generally more self-sufficient.

      Now suppose you publish a paper in a big city. What slant should you put on the news to make your paper appeal to your readers? The Leftist slant of course. Therefore, more big city papers are liberal in their political thinking and write stories in such a way that they appeal to their liberal readers. Remember that newspapers and Radio & TV stations are businesses trying to make money. Their readers are their customers. They give their customers what they want in the same way that all businesses give their customers what they want.

      Liberals want to hear that the Afghanistan war is going bad. This will increase the chances of a president from the Democratic Party. So big city papers print stories that the war is going bad and their readers like to read that. Itís easy to do. There are some good things happening in the war and some bad things. You have only so much space for the story so you only print the bad things.

      What is supposed to happen is that the other major paper in the city might print the other side of the story. But most big cities only have one major paper. Even where there are two papers they are often owned by the same company and have the same editorial board.

      Now there are big cities that have conservative papers. And predictably these cities are in red states and red counties where there is already a conservative readership. So most papers are not enlightening people, most papers and radio & TV stations are, as we say, preaching to the choir. They are merely affirming what the readership already thinks. In that sense they are playing a harmful role by curtailing objective, independent thinking among their readers. They are reinforcing what may be an erroneous position in public thinking. This might cause people to miscast their vote in the election.

      So more than a vast left-wing conspiracy to take over the press, itís more a group of businessmen trying to make a profit by appealing to their customers and thus writing what their customers want to read. The problem is the lack of competition. But that is explainable as well. Suppose you are a conservative media outlet in a liberal big city. How many customers are you going to have? Not enough to stay in business.

      Local papers were once the only source of news for the public. But that has been changed by technology. We now have radio and TV and now even blogs on the Internet. There is now national news presented nationally. So now the question becomes how should  they slant the news. America is currently split about 50/50 between Liberals and Conservatives. Most national TV media tends to present the liberal view but there are cable channels like Fox news which claim to be fair and balanced. None of the national TV news programs even claim this, they just donít bring it up. With the county split 50/50 you might flip a coin to get your slant but recall that most of the Liberals are in the big cities and most of the Conservatives are in small towns and in the country side.

      Now it becomes an issue of which group watches TV the most and, more importantly, which group might be motivated by a commercial to go out and buy the product being advertised. That is probably the group in the big cities. Shopping and spending money in the big cities is a sport. People in the country, being more conservative with their spending, tend to buy only what they need. People in the big cities, in the race to keep up with the Jones, tend to buy what they want even though they may not actually need it.

      So rather than flip a coin to get your slant, apply these principles and slant the news towards those in the big cities, that is, employ the liberal slant. Again, liberalism in national TV news is not a conspiracy, its just good business.

      But the point is that the news is slanted and itís slanted towards the Left. Thus voters often make their decision based on this leftist slant of the news.