Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?

Corporate media colludes with democracy's demise

By Bill Moyers

I heard this story a long time ago, growing up in Choctaw County in Oklahoma before my family moved to Texas. A tribal elder was telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging within himself. He said, "It is between two wolves, [RETURN TO ARTICLE]

  • Reader Comments

    Great article. We need to stop feeding the bad wolf.

    Posted by swirlaround on Jul 11, 2008 at 5:43 AM

    Although we’ve put men on the moon, and unleashed the destructive power of the atom, in practice, it seems to never occur to us that those same Laws we’ve operated to reach those potentialities, come out of the same Cosmic paradigm, which immutably operates with omnipotence in the affairs of Man!  However, the human ego, with its affinity for possession, and segregation of phenomena, is in a constant state of peril for all that it claims, while not knowing, or seeking the substance of what it purports to be real!

    But if we are to even come close to solving any one of these monumental problems that afflict society, we must first face the fact that a complex solution (attempting to solve problems by their particulars) is for those who obscure by relativism, and do not want to face the more profound difficulty of the “simple”!

    Posted by DofG on Jul 12, 2008 at 11:46 AM

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    Thank you so much for this piece, they are very few real journalists left in the ” big media ” in America today, and you are one of them.

    Let’s not forget that even The New-York Times was part of the propaganda campaign that made Americans buy into the lies of the Bush administartion in the build up to the Iraq war.

    You can still find ” real news “, but you have to look for it and ” digg” for sources on the web and in international publications or here on PBS and NPR news.

    Thanks again for your great work.

    Posted by MercyPolitics on Jul 12, 2008 at 12:14 PM

    No outlet is immune to this kind of behavior, it’s happening across the board. The FMC id doing it’s part in DC, Bil is a voicebut, he has his finger on the zeitgeist of the regular American Spoonfed Citizen. The average Joe knows he’s fed full of nonsense.
    Then again, here is an excerpt from every websites posting agreement.:

    “We reserve the right to publish any postings in the print edition of our magazine and in promotional materials.

    By registering at this site you agree not to post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, or that violate any laws. We will permanently ban all users who do so. 

    We reserve the right to remove, edit, or move any messages for any reason.”

    Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 12, 2008 at 2:04 PM


    At least you’re not calling for the repeal of the First Amendment and the imposition of local government press controls as a result of the corporate media mess. 

    I’m no fan of Sam Zell, but I think the Chicago Tribune, where the editorial board called for the repeal of the Second Amendment,  is way out of touch with the average Chicagoan and long due for some editorial cuts.

    Posted by AlbertParsons on Jul 12, 2008 at 8:18 PM

    Bill Moyers has always had some high quality b s.

    He waxes eloquent on the First Amendment, truth and freedom, but just you once try to post on his PBS forum anything slightly negative about LBJ or the JFK assassination or hinting that we do not have truth and justice regarding the events of 9-11, and your post will be poofed faster than World Trade Center 7 collapsed.

    Posted by Dachsie on Jul 13, 2008 at 5:38 AM

    Bill Bill Bill. It’s over. We don’t want democracy.  We want national security.  We don’t want the 4th Estate; we want the Panzer Unit. We don’t want participatory politics; we want pablum.  We don’t want to ask questions; we want spiffy answers.  We don’t want analysis; we want sound bites.  And we really don’t want freedom of speech; we want the illusion of freedom.  Too much responsibility involved in being free. “We don’t want to work, we want to bang on our drums all day. . . “

    Posted by Greytdog on Jul 13, 2008 at 5:57 AM

    Our elite have made an error of such a magnitude that they will forever be remembered for it.

    The ‘Error’  was more than the decision made in 1946 to give the go ahead to a full scale nuclear build up; the secret plan included with the build up was also designed to bring about and insure the extermination of the mass of humanity.

    This is still not understood by the ordinary people yet, though they will eventually figure it out.

    When they do figure it out-that they are the ‘Living Dead,’ the current period of dominance by nuclear war fighting criminal elites, will come to an end.

    The mis-use of power by the central bankers and their corporate collaborators has brought about a breach of contract between the high contracting parties, and the rest of humanity.

    The power of the corporate entities and states will return to the control of the people.

    What the people will learn is that The human race has been intervened by unknown ‘High level Powers’ who have over ridden the wishes, desires and commands of the human elite. The High level Powers have asserted the ‘Right of Power’ and repeatedly blocked the launching of a nuclear holocaust upon an unsuspecting and unaware humanity.

    Soon the ‘Living Dead’ will awaken and learn of what their fate was that was decided upon way back in 1946. When they understand what has been done to them- their absolute destruction in an all out nuclear war, they will take the steps necessary to remove wrongful use of corporate power, and return it to be the servant of the people.

    Soon we may also have the answer to the $64 thousand dollar question: “Will the elite be able to get around the intervening extraterrestrials and destroy humanity with nuclear weapons, before the ordinary volk figure it out?”


    Posted by pjrsullivan on Jul 13, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Never take the own-ness of why things are going the way they are off the self, the seat of power. Self serving caused it, guess what will make it disappear?

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 13, 2008 at 2:09 PM

    Well, you are right to a certain degree.  The American media HAS become a lapdog of the government.

      Unfortunately, your ideological blindness has prevented you from understanding the real problem.

      You people on the left, so worried that people who try to make a profit can never be trusted, can never understand the issues as long as you labor under that silly delusion.  The press has ALWAYS been driven by the profit motive.  There’s nothing new there.

      The real problem is that the media is controlled by a few influential people.  They use their control of the American media to corral the the putative “left” and the putative “right” in the same direction.

      If you are playing this faux ideological Republican/Democrat game then you are playing right into their hands.

      No matter who gets into power, the results are the same.  Stop worrying about CEOs hiding under your bed and start learning about how the world really works.


    Posted by LaserGuidedLoogie on Jul 13, 2008 at 7:44 PM

    ,,,,and speaking of the self serving. There it just was.

    Rupert Murdoch is not a Jew and he owns MOST of the media.
    If what you said were true it would have been deleted instead of just reported to the Anti Defamation League.

    Why don’t you name those jews?
    I’ll bet it’s because this is just a rumor you are starting to support some self serving agenda you have.
    That’s just plain old “old school paranoia”.

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 13, 2008 at 9:08 PM

    Moyers is MSM-lite himself.  MSM often pilfers from online material and then passes itself off as new or ‘breaking’. 

    The title of Moyer’s article came from a line used in a media critique published on July 16, 2008 in Indymedia, Tehran Times and Counterpunch
    called “Free Speech Marked for Death”.

    Was Moyer’s title taken from the following text?

    “The Neocon state within a state has orchestrated its series of “Clean Break” Arab wars via the US-Israel military/media complex-

    where the Fourth Estate doubles as a Fifth Column. “

    Now what were you saying about MSM tactics Bill?

    Posted by Rastah on Jul 14, 2008 at 1:33 AM

    If only a US-Israeli military media complex existed, the world would be exactly the same people with very different attitudes. There would be more Nazi commenters.

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 14, 2008 at 6:48 AM

    Zippy the pinhead

      Rupert Murdoch does NOT own “most of the media.” 

    As a cable news outlet, FOX is not even in the same league with the regular network outlets.

      The fact is fox is just a small part of the media.

    Posted by LaserGuidedLoogie on Jul 14, 2008 at 8:04 AM

    The corporate, mainstream newsmedia as “Fifth Column” is metaphorically appropriate but factually tenable only if we can demonstrate that,  as General Emilio Mola did when coining the term to describe General Franco’s clandestine subversives seventy-two years ago, like-mindedness is conspiratorial. Prioritizing bottom-line initiatives is allegiance to sensible business practice within a capitalistic framework of profiteering’s sustainability. It is not, necessarily, subversive or clandestine. The problem is less the magnates of media than that they engage in enterprises exploitative of ignorance and stupidity. It is our educational resources, particularly those enjoined with compulsory mandates, that pose the greatest threat to democracy. Were our schools, from pre- to post-graduate, not the sycophantic cowards of courtesan behavior, corporate media’s mindset would languish as anachronism. Until our teachers instruct children how to read a paper and watch/listen to news reports, the populace is left not merely to the mercy of media moguls, but deliberately fattened for its consumption by stupefaction. It must be noted that an almost universal and consistent tactic of authoritarian depotism centered in plutocracy is to attack academia with policing of its intellectual synod and, if necessary, annihilation of its dialectical foment. If the learned are not the avante garde, they are, by acts of omission, the fifth column. Exploiters of ignorance make no hay where the sun shines. Their business relies on darkness.

    Posted by Bud Wizer on Jul 14, 2008 at 9:54 AM

    I guess you just can’t control yourself from feeding the bad wolf.
    BS to your posts.
    I can absolutely guarantee you two things:
    There are LOT more of YOUR people involved inthe subversion of the media than Jews and that if you are admitting that your own people are so weak that you couldn’t overcome a nonphysical barrier, education, to be equal on all points with a group that you point out as beating you that is only .02 percent of any population, well, that’s the weakest argument that ever happened.
    Here’s a lil sumpin for ya, punkin:

    Antisocial Personality Disorder
    A common misconception is that antisocial personality disorder refers to people who have poor social skills. The opposite is often the case. Instead, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of conscience.People with this disorder are prone to criminal behavior, believing that their victims are weak and deserving of being taken advantage of. They tend to lie and steal. Often, they are careless with money and take action without thinking about consequences. They are often agressive and are much more concerned with their own needs than the needs of others.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder
    Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recongize them as being superior. They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. They tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

    Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people around you have sinister motives. People with this disorder tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities and usually avoid close relationships with others. They search for hidden meanings in everything and read hostile intentions into the actions of others. They are quick to challenge the loyalties of friends and loved ones and often appear cold and distant to others. They usually shift blame to others and tend to carry long grudges.


    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 14, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    Moyers makes very sharp point, that is ubiquitous and goes beyond the narrow narrative of congressional deliberations, campaign posturing, and repression in the classroom. 

    Comcast tried to pack a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing on network neutrality by hiring strangers off the street to ensure that advocates of net neutrality would not be able to get a seat in the hearing room.

    Recall that the chair of the congressional campaign committee withheld funds for democrats who where clearly anti-war activist in 2006, insuring an imperialist agenda would not be impeded, and consequently it has not. 

    What was that bottom line? Insuring a house majority, or maintaining the war the Zionist in congress want and are funded to continue. 

    So, what we got is shills instead of truly representative members of Congress in debt to the proponents of these illegal wars of aggression. That is tantamount to the fraudulent conspiracy of the FCC, in that people were seated who would not be in the least confrontational with the dictate of AIPAC agents. 

    Moyer’s is feeding the ‘bad wolf’ in his failure to go to the root of the problem, and that is the unchallenged false premise of 9/11 which was and is used as the fallback position with the debunking what was transparently a false flag operation as a psychological warfare act of terrorism on the American mind to move the agenda, “may any means necessary” and all the pusillanimously rhetoric about peace is worse than cynical it is complicity in the that act of High Treason, mass murder, and state sponsored terrorism to perpetrate war crimes on a global scale, with genocidal intent, for personal financial gain of the few, at the expsense of the many.

    This is my first post on this site and I noticed that there are nearly 2,000 post on 9/11 on one of your boards.  I have no way of knowing if many others were removed as to inflammatory, but under the circumstances, as long as it is reasonable and adding to the dialog it is relevant.  And if monitors are allowed to remove post they dislike because of their own political bias or beyond what they believe to be true, then democracy is dead here too. 

    Rights for dissenting points of view is the only reason freedom of speech needs protection, and that included the free expression of the child who incredulously stated, ‘but the emperor has no clothes on!’ - it is not needed for the fawning connivance of cowards who can not muster the dignity to speak truth to power.  And there I indict the media and all those in attendance at those State of Union addresses, in which Bush should have been booed, shouted down, or better apprehended and treated as the domestic enemy of the US Constitution he and his cabal most certainly are. 

    If that is polarizing, great!  Liberal obeisance under these circumstances is conspiracy and is reinforces the Big Lie and gives credibility to despotism..

    Posted by NotGoingAlong on Jul 14, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    It has nothing to do with Zionism.
    It has everything to do with David Rockefeller’s long term vision of how the global economy is to be administered. Don’t believe it?
    Connect the dots.
    Government moves laws and makes laws about a lot of things and Big Business ignores them all wholesale. 
    The government of any country is powerless against it’s citizens unless the Army is used. Big business has a lot more affect on the people than government ever will. Put Big business in bed with the Media (see how below, geniuses) and you have a recipe for an uncontrollable catastrophe.

    How to get big business in bed with the media:
    Have them buy advertising.

    That’s how Bill and Hill did it way back when and it has always been the norm, the more you spend on a big media outlet during campaign season, the more likely you arte to be portrayed as favorable by the media.

    Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people around you have sinister motives. People with this disorder tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities and usually avoid close relationships with others. They search for hidden meanings in everything and read hostile intentions into the actions of others. They are quick to challenge the loyalties of friends and loved ones and often appear cold and distant to others. They usually shift blame to others and tend to carry long grudges.

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 14, 2008 at 4:48 PM

    <b>NOTHING!>/b> You wish, and I don’t blame you.  I am not happy about being a white American male senior citizen.  But, I deflect responsibility for the policies and admitted criminality of the power elite, de facto and du jure - in the private and government individuals and institutions in concerted action as on 9/11. 

    Yes, David Rockefeller is the Godfather of casting his demons to fill seats as was done at the FCC meeting by Version as Mr. Moyers used as proof, which if not caught, would have been derivsively dismissed as paranoia and use mental health as a coercive assault of free discussion, debate, and breathing life in the First Amendment Rights and protections.  To make charges of mental illness, and then say it is all David Rockefeller, could be used as grounds to take you to the funny farm and change your mind, or have they about Zionist having influence in Washington, D.C. 

    Look, I do not deny I am an American, even a vet, that I voted for LBJ, and even Clinton.  So, unwittingly I voted for war criminals, but never consented to the their wars of aggression.  But, it was them, not the business sector outside of those war profiteers in arms and energy contracts. 

    Should I name-names?  Silverstein, Netayahu, Wolfowitz, Kissinger, Zelikow, Cohen, Tenet, to name the obvious.  But maybe we need to define our terms.  By, Zionist, I mean fanatical right-wing nationalist who are ruthlessly dishonest and vicious as we see in the West Bank constantly.  US supporters of that mindset, and I am not alleging it is a psychosis or genetic flaw, just brainwashing by dent of gullibility and ignorance feeding on propaganda. 

    Moyers is right Ziggy, had the mass media where Zionist have ‘NOTHING’ to do with anything, would have clarified that by now, the issue is not that complicated, and will sustain interest enough not to be glossed over like a movie. 

    May I suggest the work of Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone on radio station out of NYC on Tuesdays at 5pm ET. has their programs archived and I invite everyone to experience what real freedom of speech and on the air, at that, sounds like. 

    And I do not want to see people punished for the crimes of others, and if Zionist is too broad of a brush, I need to be challenged and corrected, rather I like it or not.  Another price we pay to live up to democracy as we make use of it, for that is solely where and why is exist at all.  We are vociferous, confrontational, and adamant with peaks of righteous indignation and that is spirit, that is what democracy looks like, when it is accusing the guilty regardless of who takes offense. 

    And to quote another grand orator and commentator, “If I offended you; thank you!” - Charles Morgan KPFK

    Posted by NotGoingAlong on Jul 14, 2008 at 5:55 PM

    Well, I guess if you only look at your side of your argument and call names to any dissentor of your thoughts, you could be construed as a person with “an agenda” who could be stopped with a paper and upset with any discourse not agreeing with yours.
    Is it worth anything to carry on like that? No.
    In the end you can hear no voice but your own.
    Debate is a bigger farce. The ultimate reality evades those on one side of any issue. There’s more to this than met your eye and it’s not as dramatic as you make it out to be.

    Posted by Zippy the giver on Jul 14, 2008 at 9:58 PM

    Some folks need to realize that “the business of America” is not Business. The business of America is Americans. Every American.

    Posted by EIHood on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:34 AM