As America's fourth estate, the press is expected to challenge politicians and fact-check their statements. However, journalist Jackie Calmes claims that a steady stream of criticism from conservative media since the mid-1990s has upset that balance of power in Washington D.C. today.

Calmes has followed D.C. politics for years as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and now as White House editor for the Los Angeles Times.  In 2015, during a fellowship at Harvard's Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, she wrote a paper on the unchecked power of the conservative media, titled  "They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing" Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party.More recently, Calmes told WGBH News editor Susan Kaplan that members of the GOP have for some time thrived on the conflict created by commentators like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. 

"They had so fed red meat to this audience for 20 years ... to feed this beast, the Republican leaders would make promises that they knew they couldn't keep," Calmes explained, until a frustrated electorate finally turned on them, embracing Donald Trump as a presidential candidate with an anti-establishment platform and an advisor from the alt-right tabloid Breitbart News. 

Jackie Calmes and Nicco Mele
Jackie Calmes talks with Fellows at the Shorenstein Center

» MORE: Listen to Calmes' lunchtime talk with fellows of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, recorded by WGBH's Forum Network