Leaving aside the issue of whether the UK government's attack on the BBC
) is a classic counterattack
to divert attention from the real issues, I want to make the case that the
media, in modern Western
countries, must be seen as a constitutionally important part of Government.
Why else would a
conflict between the Executive and the media itself be headline news ?
Though the media are sometimes casually referred to as the Fourth Estate,
the Government is usually
regarded as being composed of (1) the Executive (Queen/President/Prime Minister,
etc.), (2) the
Legislature (Parliament/Congress, etc.) and (3) the Judiciary (the Courts).
In a democracy, those
three institutions are very dependent on the media for their communication
with the electorate, and we,
the electorate, are dependent on the media for our knowledge of what these
three institutions are up
to, or should be up to. In addition, the education sector teaches us values
and supposed "facts"
which influence us throughout our lives, in our thinking and in our voting
The media is editorially controlled by a class of people whose views are
fairly uniform and
predicatable -- as the Men's Movement knows to its cost. The same can be said
about the education
system. Neither of these is democratically controlled -- they are both oligarchies.
The media like
to point to their owners as a source of bias, but that is a red herring, since
there is little
evidence that the owners of the media generally interfere in the actual content
of the media. The
education sector has little or no inhibitions or ethical restrictions on pushing
propaganda down our throats, and the throats of our children. Academics often
use the sophisticated
ploy that there is no such thing as "truth" anyway, so how could
we be so naive as to insist that
they stick to it ? And when you catch academic Feminists (who use the education
system as a Rotten
Borough) telling lies or being illogical, they reply that rationality is a
male characteristic, and
we need to free ourselves from the Patriarchal domination of rational thought
Although we now have the internet as an alternative source of information,
the media and education
system are still very powerful oligarchies. By sending out the same (biased)
message on a
particular issue to millions or billions of people, these institutions can
mass" -- they can get lies and half-truths (e.g. on Sex War issues) accepted
as part of the
background asumptions (ideology) of Western (and other) societies. The Judiciary
(apart from the
Public Service) is the only unelected part of the tripartite Government, as
However, whenever you get judges making judgements on (so-called) "policy",
or when judges decide to
be "activist" and depart from legal tradition, they are often doing
little more than parroting the
message that has been dished out to them by the media and/or education system.
So I think it is high time for Constitutional Lawyers and Political Scientists
formally and publicly that the Fourth Estate (the media) and the Fifth Estate
(the education system)
are just as much part of the Constitution as are the Executive, the Legislature
and the Judiciary.
Only once they are recognised for what they are can we begin to discuss how
they should be
structured, balanced, and -- yes ! -- controlled by democratic accountability.