- On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is
absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information
by a major press organization. The court 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. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against
any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on
a television broadcast.
- On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in
its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to 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. 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
- Fox argued from the first, and 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. The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert
Murdock, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie
or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.
- In its six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals
held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion
is only a "policy," not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation.
- Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was "totally
vindicated" by the verdict.
- © 2003 SierraTimes.com