We--as citizens--get to sift through what we hear, what we are told, and what we see, hopefully with a mind towards recognizing who is more truthful--if not only more believable--in a given moment. And since the founding of this nation, indeed since well before that moment, citizens have had--as an asset to this endeavor--the Fourth Estate, the Press.
There is some debate over who actually coined the term--the Fourth Estate--first. Many attribute it to Michel de Montaigne, though not in reference to the Press, proper. Edmund Burke supposedly used the term in reference to the Press sometime during his career in Parliament. But regardless, the idea that the Press constituted a sort bulwark against the rise of tyranny had become standard fare in political theory by the mid eighteenth century. It's worth repeating the words of Philip Dormer Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, spoken before Parliament in 1737:
The stage, my lords, and the press, are two of our out-sentries; if we remove them, if we hoodwink them, if we throw them in fetters, the enemy may surprise us.
To limit such institutions is to negate their purpose, with regard to the survival of a properly functioning government, one that promotes and protects liberty. A state-run press or media is, as matter of definition, an oxymoron, something that would serve no useful purpose, with regard to the maintenance of liberty.
Both were, of course, wise enough to see the limits here: there are lines that--if crossed--require action. Libel and slander, intentional fabrication, giving aid and comfort to real enemies of the state, all of these things could be and should be frowned upon, possibly punished, or at least called out. But Burke, Stanhope, and others of a similar mindset supposed that the press would still be more beneficial than detrimental, not because it was actually a neutral party--it never really was or is--but because individuals within could only survive for as along as they served the public conscious, as long as some part of the public accepted them, wanted what they were serving or selling.
Which brings us to today and the current state of affairs in the media. First, note that the media of today is not what it was in the time of Burke or Stanhope. Indeed, it is not what it was in the time of Reagan or Carter. From the internet to the 24-hour cable news cycle, the actual size of the press--in terms of both members and output--is orders of magnitude larger than it was even twenty-five years ago, to say nothing of two hundred years ago.