Hello and welcome to the Fourth Estate Watch. I have been writing in this space anonymously for a few weeks now (see some of my previous articles here and here), but today I want to reveal who I am. My name is Dmitri Ls and this is my website. While I’m a licensed attorney on paper, I’ve always maintained a keen interest in politics and writing. The Fourth Estate Watch is where those interests meet. As an alum of The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University and Boston College Law, I plan to focus my writing on the intersection between law and international relations, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy.
I’ve named this space the Fourth Estate Watch because many media outlets are not explaining these issues well. Genuflecting at the altar of so-called “objectivity” (which can’t and doesn’t exist in journalism), they appear content reporting events (i.e., describing them) rather than analyzing them. But this posture does themselves—and the public—no favors. Journalists need to challenge those in power, not coddle them in exchange for access. This is especially true in the context of U.S. foreign policy, where a less-than-adversarial press can take us down paths that end with The New York Times apologizing for its reporting during the lead-up to the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. The statement from the NYT over one year after the invasion is worth quoting at length as it speaks directly to the reasons that motivated me to start this website. Per the NYT: “we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged—or failed to emerge” (emphasis mine). The lesson has yet to be learned. Look at much of the current reporting on the various NSA surveillance programs, for example, and it is clear that not much has changed.
Here at the Fourth Estate Watch, then, I aim to offer readers a rigorous and aggressive analysis of the topics outlined above. Guided by Judge Murray Gurfein’s observation in the Pentagon Papers case that “[a] cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know,” I hope I can provide some clarity on issues that have been ill- or mis-reported. Everyday life notwithstanding, I plan on writing as often as possible. Thank you for reading.