In 1959, Douglas Cater who was the Washington Reporter magazine’s editor wrote a book, well known for all journalists, named “The Fourth Branch of Government.” Reviewing and analyzing its chapter called “The President and the Press”, it is necessary to point out Cater’s argument that the press and mainly television, which may be regarded as the primary and “trusty” source of news, is a powerful and competitive participant in the process held by President, his governmental and his surrounding.
Cater’s the main idea asserts that the power of the press might be used to good as well too bad effects. This issue depends on one’s viewpoint. Cater aimed to explain to journalists, editors, and managers that they should be aware that their actions and decisions may directly affect President and his government. Such process of affecting may be also reversed, and in such cases, President, the government, and President’s surroundings are influencing and causing changes in media and the information represented to the public.
Cater said: “The reporter is the recorder of government but is also a participant. He operates in a system in which power is divided. He, as much as anyone, and more than a great many, helps to shape the course of government.” (Cater, 1959).
In a conclusion, it must be pointed out the Media as the “fourth branch of government” has traditionally played a role of a “watchdog” over the President and government by making sure that any crimes by our elected officials were told to the public. However, it should be mentioned that there is certain cooperation between the President and his government and the media. These caused certain problems. The news releases have become polarized along political party lines.
This may be explained by that so-called “mainstream” media diminished its credibility and became a President’s and his government’s propaganda machine for their interests.
Media makes the image of the governing president. It creates an illusion of permanent contact of the President with the population and population’s needs and anxieties, and him directly responding and dealing with these needs, problems, and anxieties.
Cater, Douglass. The President and the Press. The Fourth Branch of Government. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959, p. 22-46.