The Fifth Branch of Government
A free press is crucial.
Ridiculously important. I mean, it’s up there in the very first amendment with other super-important stuff like “speech” and “religion.”
So important is a free press, that it is (very appropriately) called, “The Fourth Branch of Government.” It offers checks and balances on all three of the other branches. (With heavy emphasis on the Executive.)
But who checks and balances the press?
While the press is digging into the campaign contributions and investment portfolios of our elected officials, searching diligently for conflicts, scandals, and lies, who is investigating the investigators?
When the press blows the whistle on a bill, a law, or the congressman who wrote it, it often implodes, and usually takes a career or two with it. Consequently, when they miss a story, or underreport a story, or just flat out ignore a story, it goes away. Each branch of Government wields power, which is why each must be contained by the other.
But who contains the press?
That duty falls on the “Fifth Branch of Government.” The Fifth Branch is the one that the Constitution deems the “most” important. So vital is The Fifth Branch that they were named by the founding fathers before any other.
Before the President, before the congress, before the courts, and before the almighty press.
In fact, before any single right was granted to any citizen by the architects of our republic, they mention the fundamental Fifth Branch of Government upon which all the others, “official” or otherwise, are built. The Fifth Branch of Government is clearly laid out in the very first phrase:
We the people, of the United States of America…