As a professor of Media Law, I have devoted my career over the past quarter of a century to the idea that the press plays a special role in our democracy. That role is largely encapsulated by the concept of the press as Fourth Estate – an unofficial branch of government in our scheme of separation of powers that checks the power of the three official branches. In our constitutional scheme, the press is the watchdog that informs us what the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government are up to and continually replenishes the stock of news – real news – that enables informed public discus-sion and rational public policy. In this Symposium issue, Professors West and Andersen Jones analyze new ways in which President Trump’s behavior threatens the ability of the press to check the power of the executive branch and provide information vital to democracy.
Lyrissa Lidsky, Symposium: Truth, Trust and the First Amendment in the Digital Age: Foreword: Whither the Fourth Estate?, 83 Mo. L. Rev. (2018)