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The Fourth Estate of the Net

©05 The Media Desk

      It seems somewhat fitting that the common meaning of the term 'Fourth Estate' itself is French in origin.
      Dating from before the 1790's and the Revolution, the Press was deemed the Fourth Estate. After the First, the Clergy, including low ranking priests as well as the Arch-Bishop. The Second, the Royals and the Aristocracy. And the bulk, some ninety-eight percent of the population, the regular people of the country who made up the Third Estate.
      The Fourth Estate Edmund Burke was referring to in his famous speech were 'able editors' who sat in the reporters gallery and watched the business of government, and then wrote on what they observed.

      The other primary usage has all but fallen by the wayside. 'Fourth estate' has been used to refer to the working class of a country, but since the Bolsheviks and their little stink, that meaning has dropped from use.

      The Fourth Estate in the US in the morning of the Twenty First Century is no longer content to sit in the gallery and write what they see.
      It is easy to point fingers at Internet news and gossip mongers like Matt Drudge as something akin to the False Prophet of Revelation with an email address. But Drudge usually doesn't Create the things he reports. His famous REPORT is simply a clearinghouse of things that might, or to be fair- might not be, otherwise newsworthy.
      Back in the day of weekly newspapers, one of the things the Desk did was to sift through what have been called 'dispatches' and stuff from the wire services and whatever else came in, to put into features on the inside pages with titles like 'Around the Area', 'News from Afar', and the always interesting 'Oddly Noted'.
      Some of these stories were of dubious origin, most were never attributed to a source, and oftentimes repeated periodically. Mark Twain even referred to them in some of his stories. Like Journalism in Tennessee and his story of the Good Little Boy which ends with this:

[Footnote *: This glycerine catastrophe is borrowed from a floating newspaper item, whose author's name I would give if I knew it. - [M.T.]]

      And today instead of filling space between carpet sale ads and pictures of the Little Miss Fire Prevention pageant in weekly newspapers, Drudge fills a web page with it.
      Face it.
      Most of the STUFF on Drudge's site, somebody else wrote. Be they at a paper in Kansas or a TV station in Florida, or even a news service in Slovakia, somebody else wrote it, took the picture, and posted it on THEIR website. Drudge just finds it and links to it.

      And sometimes, as with the current flap about Albert Eisele and Helen Thomas's remark about the Vice President and her opinion of his candidacy in 2008, Drudge's linking to it raises some ire.
      OK. For those Desk Readers who don't know.
      Mr. Eisele could be one of those 'able editors' who sit and watch the Government and then write about it. He does so in The Hill. A Washington DC newspaper that bills itself as "For and About Congress". Most state capitols have something similar, if not an actual daily newspaper or weekly magazine, there is a 'legislative watch' page in the local edition that focuses on the halls of power, and it probably has some sort of gossip column so the legislators and cabinet secretaries can see their names in print in something of a favorable, or at least not unfavorable, light.
      Most of the time, papers like this fly under everybody else's radar. Unless you are doing business with the Government at whatever level, have special interest in pending legislation, or perchance, work 'inside the beltway' in something related, you may not even know such a thing exists.
      On the other hand Ms Thomas is a relic. She was the senior wire service correspondent covering the White House for the United Press International (UPI), something she has been doing since JFK was listed as primary occupant. She moved to the Hearst news group a few years ago. And in the last twenty years, she has done so more and more from the far Left of the spectrum. And she had admitted the same at almost every turn.
      To anybody that watches the news, Helen Thomas is unfailingly liberal. She absolutely hates all things conservative. And routinely baits President Bush and others in the administration with leading questions trying to get them to say something stupid that can be twisted to her agenda. And that is something most politicians do not need any help in doing- saying something stupid that is.
      Nobody would ever accuse most national level journalists of being overly conservative, but many of them at least pretend to balance their reports. Thomas doesn't. She sees the Democratic agenda, and even more so, the extreme Liberal side of that party as the cure for all national ills and was evidently convinced that Bill Clinton was Sent From Above. Don't believe it? Go back and read her columns and reports from the Clinton Era, they are hard to find, but they're out there. Including her essay where she defended 'the American Taliban' John Walker.
      Oh yeah.

      So it should come as no surprise when Thomas promised to kill herself if Dick Cheney runs for president.
      Well. We can dismiss that as another empty promise from a whining liberal.
      Like Rosie and that bunch saying they'd move out of the country.
      Well, at least Madonna did. And Michael Jackson seems to be heading that way. That's a start.
      (Side Question: Does the King of Pop know what the penalty under Sharia, Islamic Law, is for molesting children? Death by Beheading by Sword in most Arab Countries. Stoning in others.)

      To be somewhat fair here, Ms. Thomas, in her earlier days, did ask some amazingly pointed questions of presidents of both parties. Often treading through minefields of spin and talking points to get to something that might have a shred of truth in it.
      Reagan seemed to enjoy the challenge of observing protocol and recognizing her first among the press corps. Then he'd grasp the lectern firmly with both hands and go for it.
      But of late, she's simply been a mouthpiece for those so far in left field they're in the wrong ball park.
      Now there is nothing wrong with a good solid liberal. As long as they are consistent. Which is the Desk's primary complaint about conservatives as well.
      Both sides have their pet causes and agendas, but they seem to turn a blind eye to anything within their own platform that is self contradictory.
      For instance. The Desk will not say which party did this, but here's a good one. In a recent election one party fought to the death to have hundreds of ballots voided as having been improperly mailed to the election office and then, not long after, they were screaming bloody murder to have voter registrations under names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy counted.
      What is vote fraud for the Goose, MUST BE vote fraud for the Gander.
      If you are going to ban one type of special interest money, ban it all.
      If you are going to say you support the Constitution and its amendments, Support Them All. Don't pick and choose those you like and those you don't. Don't be a strict constructionalist on the First Amendment and then run off with a broad interpretation of the Second. Or vise versa.
      And if you do not want Federal Judges legislating from the bench over one issue, say- abortion or gun control, don't go favoring it when they meddle in something else, say- homosexual marriage or drug use.

      Boy did we get off track here.
      Back to Helen Thomas.

      Nothing more needs to be said there.


[NOTE: The Desk is registered as a Conservative Independent Libertarian. It has never voted for a winning candidate in any major election, although it votes in every major election. It has also never read the Hill, and does not know Helen Thomas or Mr. Eisele or Mr. Drudge. thank you]

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