In the Ung vs. Zimmerman thread, user Chinchin turned a particularly nice phrase, "The Fourth Estate has become the Fifth Column." Here's a brief backgrounder on the terms for the younger folks.
The Fourth Estate (or fourth estate) is a societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized. "Fourth Estate" most commonly refers to the news media; especially print journalism or "The Press". ... Earlier writers have applied the term to lawyers, to the British queens consort (acting as a free agent, independent of the king), and to the proletariat. The term makes implicit reference to the earlier division of the three Estates of the Realm.
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within. A fifth column can be a group of secret sympathizers of an enemy that are involved in sabotage within military defense lines, or a country's borders. A key tactic of the fifth column is the secret introduction of supporters into the whole fabric of the entity under attack. This clandestine infiltration is especially effective with positions concerning national policy and defense. From influential positions like these, fifth-column tactics can be effectively utilized, from stoking fears through misinformation campaigns, to traditional techniques like espionage.


The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 193639 Spanish Civil War. As his army approached Madrid, a message was broadcast that the four columns of his forces outside the city would be supported by a "fifth column" of his supporters inside the city, intent on undermining the Republican government from within (see Siege of Madrid). The term was used as the title of Ernest Hemingway's only play, which he wrote while the city was being bombarded; the play was published in 1938 in his book The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories.