Because the media has more power than the government to mold public opinion, the relationship between these two institutions has always been tempestuous. Government leaders constantly struggle to use the media to gain support and advance their agendas, and journalists constantly exercise their freedom to print anything and everything they deem important to inform the public about—including ideas that attack the character of government leaders, expose information they want to hide, and convey information that is subversive to the government agenda. Theoretically, the government is unable to use the media solely to its advantage, as the press has a right to exercise their freedom of expression. Also, journalists are obligated to report unbiased news and present both sides of an issue. Even more importantly, though, the media is expected to play the role of government watchdog. It is accountable to the people—not to the government —and its job is to inform the people about what the government is doing.
In practice, the relationship between government and the press is even more discordant. In reality, the press is not objective. Journalists have opinions, and whether or not they inject them into their reports, those opinions are often obvious. A media outlet can control the content of the news simply by selecting what to report and what not to report, for instance. Furthermore, investigative journalism can easily be taken to extremes. Journalists have often resulted to underhanded tactics to dig up dirt on government leaders and create media scandals that destroy their reputations, for example. As scandals escalate, facts become distorted, and the focus of the media shifts from reporting the truth to launching personal attacks.