In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
Back in December of 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox “Investigators” team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1997 the team began work on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation. The couple produced a four-part series revealing that there were many health risks related to BGH and that Florida supermarket chains did little to avoid selling milk from cows treated with the hormone, despite assuring customers otherwise.
According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox's actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)
Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury's words) “a false, distorted or slanted story” about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida's whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.
FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre’s threat to report the station’s actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida’s whistle blower statute, because Florida’s whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted “law, rule, or regulation." In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy." Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly. (Anybody surprised this happened in Florida?)
During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so.
You know I hate to have to point out the obvious but once you admit that you "lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves" you don't then get to bitch that the White House says that you are "not a news station". You aren't!
What kind of candy-ass "I get to break the rules, but you don't" garbage is that?
No, if you want to constantly lie about and run down the administration because your corporate masters and ideological cohorts tell you to, then you don't get to turn around and pretend that you are suddenly going to report the next story objectively.
Here Media Matters brilliantly illustrates just how Fox News "opinions" become Fox News "news".
President Obama is not Charlie Brown, and you are not Lucy Van Pelt. He has already figured out that you are not going to let him make contact with that football. You are going to pull it away like you do EVERY SINGLE TIME!
Well fuck you and fuck your football! There are a lot of real cable news outlets to choose from, and if Fox News wants to act like a schizophrenic ex-girlfriend than they can sit around interviewing each other all day while MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC report the real political news of the day.
(Crossed posted over at Daily Kos.)