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From Fourth Estate to Fifth Column

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The Fourth Estate has become over time a Fifth Column for the Power Elites in business, finance and politics and the Agenda Benders of the National Security State.

An Alert and Knowledgeable Citizenry

In his final address to the nation the 34thpresident of the United States Dwight D (Ike) Eisenhower, in his much referenced 'farewell to arms' speech, famously warned Americans about the perils of the growing "military-industrial complex". In this address he said:

"...Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Although it's the "military-industrial" bit most folks remember, it was the "alert and knowledgeable" part that should resonate. Unfortunately for the "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" Ike suggested was the only bulwark against the continued growth, power and influence of this monster within, most of said "citizenry" remained oblivious to it all. They either fell asleep at the democratic wheel or chose to remain ignorant of the already disturbing implications of its encroaching reach into every aspect of the American demos and polity. When the torch was passed to the new generation in 1961, the 'good life' was beckoning. Few it seemed wished to rock the boat.

That the growth of this "complex" almost fifteen years into the New American Century has far exceeded anything even the Old Warhorse himself could have imagined is a given. Yet despite this, we can safely say even if the "good life" may not be "beckoning" anymore and we all have much more to fear regarding Ike's warnings, most Americans are still asleep at the wheel. There seems little evidence that is likely to change anytime soon.

And herein we should ponder at least one of the main reasons why this is so.

For those folks who retain any measure of faith or confidence that the so-called Fourth Estate -- in this case, the mainstream or corporate media -- is providing us with all the insight we need to make sense of the driving forces behind global developments and events, then a reality check of the first order is in order. The Fourth Estate has become over time a Fifth Column for the Power Elites in business, finance and politics and the Agenda Benders of the National Security State. The big fix is in, the game rigged. And it is decidedly not in favour of equality, democracy, freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the majority; nor is it for that matter, designed to nurture "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry".

When we consider a "Fifth Column" as defining any group or cohort working against, and to the detriment of, a larger group -- in this case, an otherwise "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" -- the analog is fitting, albeit not very flattering. As might be expected, the media is supposed to act as a 'bulwark against bullshit', and to hold the PTBs to account, to ensure their transparency, honesty and integrity.

The fundamental principles of journalistic ethics and the standards by which we might judge what we are fed sound hunky-dory in theory. But when the rubber hits the road these ethics and standards are all too quickly deep-sixed in favour of more prosaic, less lofty, and increasingly, democracy defying, concerns. Put simply, the "public interest" becomes "private".

The evidence for this is overwhelming and irrefutable. On its own the extraordinary growth of the independent and alternative media underscores this premise. This doubtless points to more people increasingly looking for news, viewpoints and opinions outside the MSM. The 'marketplace of ideas' isn't just expanding; the monopoly is breaking down and whole new niches are opening up. This is of course a welcome development.

With this in mind, although some might suggest one does not need a Ph.D in media theory to appreciate this, with the MSM, when it comes to the acquisition and dissemination of news information that is in the (admittedly) ever-moving feast of the "public interest", these principles -- veracity, objectivity, accuracy, impartiality, fairness, accountability, integrity -- have become a bit 'old school', a casualty as much in times of peace as in war. Although there are promising signs their readership is waning, even in the modern information and communications age there is no shortage of folks implacably wedded to their daily fix of 'impropaganda' from the establishment newsmakers and the 'opinionocracy' whose positioning statement might well read: "Here is the news we choose, to give you all today".

The Great Malaise

Yet, as long as we are not relying on the MSM for our daily dose of context and perspective, examples underscoring the broad premise herein abound everywhere we care to look. Writer Ulson Gunnar reported in an article this week on the New Eastern Outlook website, details of Vladimir Putin's recent address to the Valdai Discussion Club. Putin's address was wide ranging and is highly recommended reading.

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Greg Maybury is a Perth (Australia) based freelance writer. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military and geopolitical affairs, and both US domestic and (more...)
 

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