Retrospective: Fox Loss Was Overturned Later On Appeal

Editors Note: We are replaying this episode in journalism as an example of how we can lose control of truth. Our National Amnesia does not serve us well when we leave such matters unaddressed. Fox News loses this case initially as this story indicates, but later wins the appeal giving them the okay to lie to the public in their news reports. In many ways this is a large corporation testing the resolve of all Americans' capacity to check abuses of power. This is made more troublesome by the fact that the abuses are the actions of the press. Ironically the press is supposed to represent the publics interest by placing a check on abuses of power. When the press is the "abuser", what checks can be placed on it? We hope you'll be moved to take action by supporting media reform today.
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Florida Reporters Win Trial Over Fox TV and Monsanto Suppression of rBGH Story (and lose the case later)

Florida Reporters Awarded $500,000 in Damages after FOX TV Caved into Monsanto and Killed an Investigative Series on the controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER EXTRA August 21, 2000 A.V. Krebs, Editor\Publisher Monitoring the activities of corporate agribusiness from a public interest perspective
By Steve Wilson
TAMPA (August 18) After listening to all the evidence for five full weeks and deliberating more than six hours, a state court jury has agreed with what fired journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre said long ago: FOX Television pressured them to broadcast a false, distorted or slanted news report.
The jury awarded $425,000 in damages after finding the evidence proved that FOX took retaliatory personnel action against Akre because she threatened to blow the whistle to the Federal Communications Commission.
The jury did not find for Wilson apparently because they concluded that FOX's decision not to renew his contract was not based solely on a threat to low the whistle to the FCC.
According to a published report in the St. Petersburg Times, FOX V-P News Phil Metlin claimed, "The jury realized that FOX never told anyone to lie, distort or slant the news.
"This is a wonderful day," Metlin told the Times and WTVT in an interview that was also aired on the station's 10 p.m. news broadcast. He and other FOX executives refused comment to The BGH Bulletin as they left the courthouse after the verdict.
Chief defense attorney William McDaniels of the Washington firm Williams & Connolly that represents President Clinton, said the defeated defendants would have a statement later in the evening and promised to provide it but never did.
FOX has indicated it intends to appeal the damage award the jury gave to Akre.
"We're these guys at the same trial I was at?" Akre asked after watching WTVT's reporting of the verdict on the station's newscast Friday night.
"They think this jury decided FOX never told anyone to lie, distort or slant the news?" co-plaintiff Wilson asked. "Poor Mr. Metlin must have gone somewhere to drown his sorrows before drawing a conclusion like that! "And as for FOX lawyer Ted Russell making a similar statement on the air," Wilson continued, "he's just doing what the jury saw FOX lawyers often do. They frequently have, shall we say, a unique interpretation of the truth."

Democracy Now interview with Jane Akre and Steve Wilson