They are also, the cynic might say, landmarks in the media’s long march to dominance over the nation’s traditional republican institutions. What is undeniable is that the adherents of this mythology have based their arrogance and self-conceit very largely on the moral capital they suppose themselves or their journalistic predecessors to have acquired by performing such signal public services—to the American public, if not to the Vietnamese. Which is why the mythologization of the war continues. As I write, I notice that they’re showing a TV movie on a cable network about the heroic story of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. There may, I suppose, still be two opinions about the wisdom of American withdrawal from Vietnam, even though, as a disingenuous reporter pointed out at President Bush’s press conference on March 6, the dangers to ourselves of a Communist victory forecast by our leaders at the time have not come to pass. But what will not stand up to even a moment’s scrutiny is the assumption that what appears on television is in any sense “reality.”
From an absolutely brilliant article in The New Criterion. Read the whole thing. There's no question that the concept the press has of itself, i.e. as a fourth branch of government, is a deeply disturbing one, for the obvious reason that the press is unelected and has no checks whatsoever on its power. The media usually views itself as the primary force for rooting out dangers to liberty and democracy, without ever asking itself if it to is a danger in its own right.