You have to think of the way things were back in the middle ages and before.
You had a group of elites. Some were wise some were not, they got their wealth from inheritances of lands granted by royalty and lived off the labor of the tenants on the land.
They would patronize entertainers and artists and scientists. Those people would humor their patrons who were amateurs in their fields in order to maintain their funding and comfort. They would also have squires and knights who would serve them and depend on their largess for their place in society.
These Lords would compete with other lords for the favor of the king and the largess that he would supply them, but the King also knew that if the Lords turned on him they would be another Royal house in charge.
Since wealth wasn’t the big issue the primary worry was status. Who was considered the most important.
Because they were elites they also enjoyed the king protection when their actions crossed lines of propriety.
And beneath all of these people were the freedman, the tradesmen, the serfs and the slaves, they actually grew the foods and created the tools and did the work and saw the majority of it. They were expected to do the work, pay the taxes and not complain.
When you wonder about Hollywood and Polanski, about the White House’s attack on Fox, about reporters sucking up to Letterman and Polanski, about networks pandering to the president, about the NRCC and the New York 23rd, about conservatives becoming big spenders and about CPAC west and their treatment of John Ziegler, keep the above in mind and it will all make sense to you.
Update: Salena Zito elaborates.