19 February 2003
LYING AND DISTORTING THE NEWS OK IN FLORIDA
Sounds like the Bush election victory!
Jane Akre and Steve Wilson are the two journalists fired by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV after they refused to rewrite a documentary investigation into Monsanto’s GM bovine growth hormone, BGH/Posilac, used to make cows produce more milk. Akre and Wilson had unearthed reports of serious side effects in cows treated with the hormone and also flagged up human health issues, but were asked to rewrite the report to make it more favourable to BGH/Monsanto. They said no, and lost their jobs, allegedly as a direct consequence. Akre won damages from Fox in a lawsuit brought under whistle-blowing laws, but now it seems the verdict has been overturned.
For how Bush’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, illegally manipulated Florida’s electoral system to give Dubya the election even though he apparently got less votes than Gore, see Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men.
[foxBGHsuit] APPEALS COURT REVERSES JURY IN AKRE V FOX TV CASE
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 23:59:48 -0000
Accepting a defense rejected by three other Florida state judges on at least six separate motions, a Florida appeals court has reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information.
In a six-page written decision released February 14, the court essentially ruled the journalist never stated a valid whistle- blower claim because, they ruled, it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.
In the lawsuit filed in 1998, Akre claimed she was wrongfully terminated for threatening to blow the whistle to the FCC. After a five-week trial that ended August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that she was indeed fired for threatening report the station's pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was "a false, distorted, or slanted" story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows.
In overturning the jury on what amounts to a legal technicality, the court did not dispute the heart of Akre's claim, that Fox pressured her to broadcast a false story to protect the broadcaster from having to defend the truth in court, as well as suffer the ire of irate advertisers.
Nonetheless, the station aired a report in wake of the ruling saying it was "totally vindicated" by the verdict. The "threshold issue," the court wroteËœand all it ruled uponËœ - was whether the technical qualifications for a whistleblower claim were ever met by Akre.
In Florida, to file such a claim, the employer's misconduct must be a violation of an adopted law, rule or regulation. Fox argued from the firstËœand failed on three separate occasions in front of three different judges - to have the case tossed out on the grounds there is no hard, fast, and written rule against deliberate distortion of the news.
In essence, the news organization owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to even lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.
In it's opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion is only a "policy," not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation.
The court let stand without comment the jury verdict that awarded nothing to Steve Wilson, Akre's husband and co-plaintiff in the case. He aggressively represented himself at trial, paving the way for Fox attorneys to suggest he was as aggressive in the newsroom as he was in the courtroom and perhaps that was why he was fired.
Akre and Wilson were meeting with their attorneys to discuss a possible appeal of the ruling to Florida's Supreme Court and are expected to have an announcement and further comment soon.
For further information: http://www.foxBGHsuit.com
"Why, when the most urgent threat arising from illegal weapons of mass destruction is the nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan, is the US government ignoring it and concentrating on Iraq? Why, if it believes human rights are so important, is it funding the oppression of the Algerians, the Uzbeks, the Palestinians, the Turkish Kurds and the Colombians? Why has the bombing of Iraq, rather than feeding the hungry, providing clean water or preventing disease, become the world's most urgent humanitarian concern? Why has it become so much more pressing than any other that it should command a budget four times the size of America's entire annual spending on overseas aid?
"...Strategic thinkers in the US have been planning this next stage of expansion for years. Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary for defence, was writing about the need to invade Iraq in the mid-1990s. ...blood is a renewable resource; oil is not." George Monbiot, 'Too much of a good thing' The Guardian, February 18, 2003
"Blair's not listening to us anymore - he's just listening to Bush and Big Business". A comment on the GM 'Public Debate'? No, it was the main message from speakers to the two million at the Stop the War rally in Hyde Park [London]. Robert Vint, GM Crops and War - two struggles or one?