The Fourth Estate and Donald Trump

The term “fourth estate” was coined by Scottish satirist Thomas Carlyle in 1841. He wrote in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship that reporters of Parliament acted as a fourth branch of government. Within the official federal government exists a form of “checks and balances,” but who checks the federal government?

The press.

In an article published by The Washington Post on October 18th, 2017, the press used its role as a watchdog to hold President Trump accountable for some untrue statements made early this week.

This article was written addressing the government’s response (or lack of in this case) to the recent deaths of four American soldiers attacked in Niger. Reportedly, the soldiers died on October 4th, but President Trump waited almost two weeks before commenting on the tragedy.

The public was troubled by what he finally came up with.

The press wouldn’t have made such a fuss about his excuse for a late response if he hadn’t also been found guilty of lying. He claimed publicly to have spoken with the families of each American soldier that has died since his inauguration, stating also that he is one of the few presidents whose made such an effort to personally contact affected families.

He also denied allegations made by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida in regards to a phone call made to recent widow Myeshia Johnson. The wife of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson received the call from the White House as she rode in a limousine with Congresswoman Wilson. As she tells it, the phone was on speaker and both women listened as President Trump said something to the effect of, “Your husband knew what he signed up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.” Both women were offended by the insensitivity of his words.

The Washington Post had several journalists working on the article, performing interviews, gathering footage and photos and other evidence to back up their statements. After talking with witnesses like Congresswoman Wilson and Gold Star families, the journalists were able to collaborate and present both sides of the story.

Out of the 13 Gold Star families that the Post interviewed, five have not received any personal condolences from the president. Overall, it presents a very bleak and disappointing view of President Trump. Though several statements from these Gold Star families were presented positively in the middle of the article, the last paragraph very strongly clarifies the main idea which is, “Trump is a liar.” 

The bright side of the story is that within hours of publishing this article, Trump wrote a check for $25,000 and sent it to Mr. Chris Baldridge to whom, through a phone call, he had expressed his condolences and promised $25K for the passing of his son, Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge.

No one expected President Trump to give out money to any of the victims’ families. In fact, Chris Baldridge admits in his interview with The Washington Post that he knew he shouldn’t have expected a check when he opened the envelope sent from the White House. But when a promise is made (in this case, a promise of $25,000), it should be kept.

Thanks to the press, Mr. Baldridge will be receiving his check shortly.