The year was 1781, and British statesman Edmund Burke took to the floor of parliament and said these words:
There are three estates in parliament. The first estate is the clergy. The second is nobility. The third, the common man. But there in the reporter galleries yonder there sits a fourth estate, much more important by far than the rest."
What Burke was saying was really simple: In a democratic society there are institutions like religion, government agencies, unions, political parties. To ensure proper governance and fairness, they come together. They debate. They find agreement. They make new laws and repeal old laws. But Burke was saying right then, and he identified the value of a fourth estate in society, a free and independent press.
The press needs to act as a people's watchdog. They ensure the people retain their access to truth, that we are informed and aware of what the institutions and our leaders --- whether they're clergy, unions or governments --- what our leaders are doing and if our leaders are telling us things that are truthful and consistent. They are the fourth estate. And they are elevated above the government, above unions, above our churches, above our religious figures. They protect us by finding and publishing and exposing the truth, so then we can make an informed decision, so that we the people are not misled and aren't lied to, so our freedom can't be taken from us by con men.
So what happens when the press starts to lie? What happens when they make it their goal not to discover and present the truth, but rather to fulfill a particular political agenda? What happens when the press aligns itself heavily with a single political party and begins to shape stories to support a particular moral ideology? We know because we've seen it.
What happens is this: The truth is lost, and the people begin to trust no one. When the watchdog aligns itself with the wolves, it is the sheep who become the victims. The goal of the majority of the press stopped being about telling the truth around the time of Woodrow Wilson. That's when it became a coordinated effort, the fourth estate merged with the first and second estate.
It was three estates against one. The press stopped being about telling the truth and became about transforming the world, shaping it closer to their heart's desire, about getting certain candidates elected or changing the perception about human morality or our culture. The press developed an agenda that was far beyond fact-finding.
It began about presenting a story that gave readers and viewers a certain perception. It is the reason the Council of Foreign Relations was begun. Facts could be left out if they cricked the agenda. Certain photos or videos would be used or edited to tell the story, the editor, the reporter, or the company owner, or the politician, the government wanted to tell. And in their hearts, they had justified it, because to them, they were making the world a better place because they believed their agenda was right.
They were fighting against evil. They were fighting against deforestation. They were helping put a stop to gun violence. They were reducing alcoholism. Preventing obesity. Trying to put an end to income inequality. So a little lie here, a little omission here, a little snip of a video here or a sound bite --- you just select the right image, and you can create whatever perception you want among the readers.
So what if you have to bend the truth a little bit, if you have to smear a good man's name in the meantime? So what if you have to make people who look like they read the Bible, look like toothless rednecks to prevent gun violence, to save a child, it's worth that the truth be damned. We all know this because we've watched it for 100 years.
It's the job of the press to discover the truth and to present and inform us of the truth, but it hasn't been done in a long time. And without it, you know, because you see it. We become blind. We are lost because we cannot make an informed, rational decision about our future. And no one even looks to the press anymore because people say, "They're all lying." And when everyone is perceived as a liar, then there cannot be any search for truth. The truth becomes irrelevant.
Without a free press actually doing their job, the common man cannot do his job. We cannot protect each other's freedom. We can't act in concert to defend our neighbor's liberty.
We've known for a long time that the mainstream media has leftist bias. Independent watchdog organizations have released study after study showing how that bias impacts the veracity of their stories and their conclusions, how the truth is left behind. And every conservative knows it. We have lamented it for years. We have nicknames for it --- lame stream media, the drive-by media, the left stream media. It's even funny until we have completely lost the truth.
And now we find ourselves in a situation to where nobody is even looking for the truth --- because there is no standard of truth.
What we're lamenting is not just the lost of journalistic integrity. It's not just that they have a left-leaning bias. We have lost access to truth. And now the game has changed almost entirely, as it should have. But it's gone down the same road. In today's media world, the goal is just to sell eyeballs, to get shares, to get clicks. The more sensational the coverage, the more scandalous the story, the more bias you can pack into a story, the better. Throw them the red meat that they want. It's more likely to get shared, more likely to get clicked on. And, therefore, more likely to drive advertising dollars and high CPMs.
Show a polar bear standing alone on a tiny iceberg and write a story about global warming. Millions of shares. Millions of eyeballs. Millions of people all around the world feeling sorry for the polar bears who are going to drown out there in the freezing ocean.
Should I mention the polar bear population is increasing dramatically? No, no, no. I say that, it takes away from the goal here, which is to paint a certain picture. To give a certain impression. To get more click-through his and comments. Don't let the truth get in the way of doing good. You may not get a promotion at the Huffington Post. If your story doesn't get clicks and comments, the polar bears, they don't care. So really, who gets hurt?
We know this problem has existed. We know that it's existed in media for probably since the beginning of time. But as a coordinated effort by the progressives --- on both sides of the aisles --- for 100 years.
Quite honestly, the only reason why I have any career and the reason why people know my name is because I was willing to go on radio and go on TV and simply tell the truth, first about me, and then about the truth as I understood it. And audiences were so hungry for it because they couldn't find authenticity anymore in their newspaper or broadcast news channel. They couldn't find somebody who would say what they mean and mean what they said.
Now, if we conservatives and Libertarians and constitutionalists, those of us on the political right, those of us who have seen the rise of leftist bias and willful deceit, if we are to take over the mainstream media and we do the same thing, why would we expect different results? Why would we expect to be able to garner trust?
When the New York Times --- when anybody does it, when Facebook does it --- it has to be called out. Bias is bias. When it's proven, bias is bias. When the Huffington Post does it, we have to call it out. But when our side does it, perhaps it's more important to call it out on ourselves because we don't have this image yet. We're not known as the liars, yet. They think we are. They think we're no different than they are. But I contend we are different than they are. I contend we do have higher values and higher principles. I contend we do have the truth. So when you hear somebody on our side smear to smear, print falsehoods, we need to call it out.
Yesterday, the Drudge Report posted a story about Bill Cosby, formerly facing sexual assault charges, as he should have. He should face that. But what was amazing was Drudge rightfully led with that story, but he also put a picture on top. And so the lead picture was Bill Cosby standing in front of a very young, maybe 10-year-old picture, of Hillary Clinton. So she was in the picture behind Bill Cosby.
How long did it take to find a picture of Bill Cosby that could implicate Hillary Clinton in his rape case? A picture of Bill Cosby in the foreground, with Hillary in focus in the background, completely out of context. How is that any different than the polar bear on the ice cap? How is that any different than the picture of that one polar bear floating there?
I want you to know, I have no sympathy for Hillary Clinton. She has led the way of smearing the right for decades --- "the vast right-wing conspiracy," a lie to protect herself. There is plenty of very low-hanging fruit that she deserves to be attacked for, but this isn't about her. This is about us.
Do we or do we not hold a higher standard for ourselves? Because if it's wrong when the left-leaning press uses an image that misleads or confounds the truth, if that would have happened and it was a picture of Donald Trump, do you think Drudge would have used that picture? Of course not. He was furthering an agenda. Do you think if you would have had that picture and it was Donald Trump and the New York Times did it, do you think we would be outraged? Of course. Of course we would.
We believe in principles.
Everybody knows how I feel about Ted Cruz and constitutionalists, yet the one charge --- I've heard a lot of charges: I'm a drunk. I'm failing. I'm out of control. I'm crazy. I'm on drugs. I've sold out all my values. I'm not the guy I used to be. I got paid off by Ted Cruz, his super PACs. I've made millions of dollars. I've heard it all. But the one thing I haven't heard is that TheBlaze sold out and became an organ for Ted Cruz.
I believe in principles. The news must be separate from an agenda. That doesn't mean you don't stand for something, but we don't lie. We don't smear. We don't publish stories with iffy sources, no matter how much we want a story to be true. And believe me, there are stories we have wanted to be true. But we must go where the truth leads us. That must be our mission as people, to help others discover the truth, not to be hoodwinked into it. But to question with boldness, even the very existence of God. For if there is a God, he must surely rather honest questioning over blindfolded fear.
So where do we go now? We must go where the truth leads us. It must be the mission to help people discover the truth.
Featured Image: The Glenn Beck Program, May 25, 2016