You have to give it to him: President Donald Trump loathes the Fourth Estate with a dedication verging on caricature. He splutters at the members and rails at their observations with adolescent rage. He sees some of its members, not without a few solid reasons, as enemies of his vision. (The Gray Lady is formidable in that regard.)
But it is hardly surprising that his loathing takes place at a time when that particular estate, which Thomas Carlyle saw a mighty force of oversight, has been smouldering and crumbling before the sallies of social media and a newly emergent Fifth Estate, edgy, uncontrolled and threatening to conventional wisdom. Call them the citizen journalists, the irate foot soldiers, the opinionated bloggers, the readers of news who prefer Facebook to reportage. The media denizens are besieged.
These foot soldiers of another type of often shrieking journalism are a hit-and-miss sort. They ended up in the mad flung universe of Breitbart where Steve Bannon continues to hold court as a guerrilla force. They populate the climes which have now been designated “alt-right”.
Bannon’s clever alteration of technique was to turn standard journalism against itself, suggesting that his own brand was different, a torch for anti-establishment forces. In so doing, he exploited establishment ignorance and wilful myopia. “The media here,” he infamously noted last year, “is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. …