In politics in the U.S., the fourth branch of government (sometimes referred to as the fourth estate) is an unofficial term referring to the mass media that extends beyond the three branches of the government as defined in the U.S. Constitution (legislative, executive and judicial).
As we all know, media can be all-powerful, because it can make or break participants in the prior three branches of government. It is an unelected group and up to now has been self-governed – speaking truth to power.
Much discussion recently has emerged on the corrosive power of this fourth estate – losing credibility due to the infiltration of political bias and agenda-driven journalism – not speaking truth to power but rather shaping and wielding power via a new undemocratic process. News Forecasters asks, is there a metamorphosis of the fourth estate occurring into a new and growing fifth estate? And what are its next moves?
In U.S. politics, the even more unofficial term of the fifth estate has also been referred to as the deep state. The fifth estate is often thought to be a hybrid association of politicians in the first three estates, government agencies, military, foreign actors, academia, top-level industry players, criminal elements, think tanks, and selected parts of the fourth estate (media, and even social media now). Again this fifth estate is unelected, has no democratic processes, and wields considerable power – shaping and enabling political agendas. Many parts of the Intelligence Community are key participants in this fifth estate.
The U.S. Intelligence Community is a group of 17 separate U.S. government intelligence agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign policy and national security of the United States. This sounds all well and good if its activities stay within this scope box. But what if it goes beyond this scope? Wielding its power, it can drive political agendas and can be used to corrupt economies to support its members and maintain power. It may have started as a reasonable supporting element of government by the people, but many now believe it has gone too far and now seeks nefarious objectives counter to the people.
The U.S. fiscal year 2020 budget request for intelligence included a request of $62.8 billion, not including the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). This is a massive increase since 2005, when the budget was only $39.8 billion. Unfortunately, like many government programs, the Intelligence Community budget is growing at bloated rates – twice the rate of normal inflation. Organizations without any control tend to grow with self-justifying reasons – national security, of course.
President Trump has ordered that the staff of the National Security Council be significantly reduced. It is rumored that in a second Trump term, the entire Intelligence Community staffing across all agencies could suffer staff and budget cuts. The thinking is that there are too many groups spending too much effort surveilling useless information, violating privacy, and in some cases creating problems with the net effect of causing more problems than they solve. The fifth estate uses the tools of the Intelligence Community – information, pay-to-play, bribery, blackmail, and in some cases targeted extralegal violence – to achieve its goals. But it is not just about defunding. Trump is delegitimizing and trying to reign in its power of many of its activities.
The Trump presidency presents an existential threat to the fifth estate – defunding and delegitimizing. This is not to say that the Trump agenda is either positive or negative (you decide), rather to say, that a behemoth fifth estate organization is under attack – regardless of the reasons. It won’t go quietly, and it will fight back to maintain power and protect its interests. So what are the next steps of the fifth estate, and will they win?
Left-wing politics is playing a dangerous game. Instead of winning the public debate on its policies, they have chosen to win at any cost. Hence, they have been cheering and helping the fifth estate and its war against their political foes. They forget that the fifth estate has no ideological allegiance per se – just seeking more money and power. Once their existential threat is removed, they can just as easily turn on the political left. In a sense, we may have a political coup d’état underway. What can happen? Here is one assessment, though coming from a bias source – The Left’s last card:
Emoluments, Stormy Daniels, Russia collusion, the Mueller report, impeachment… The Left has played damn near every card in the deck against Donald Trump to no result whatsoever. Leftists are getting down to the bottom of the deck, and the final card: assassination.
Again this is not to say Trump’s policies are right or wrong, rather the process of political change. What goes around will come around. Ignore this at your peril. No one from the political left or right is happy with government today (see inset chart, poll), having the fifth estate decide for us will not make it better.
News Forecasters have yet to make a final prediction on the U.S. presidential election, but it will be close. Trump will normally leave office in 2020 or 2024 via elections. Our view is that the trend is in place. Whether the fifth estate defeats Trump in 2020 or in a Trump second term – they will eventually win, even go nuclear in their chosen options if required. To rid the U.S. of the corruptive nature of the fifth estate will require an ugly and radical solution – a topic for another article.
A video presentation of this subject: