[Surfside] Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie

Paul Makepeace bookmarks@paulm.com
Thu, 13 Mar 2003 03:20:21 +0000


[whole article]

``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 irate

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.''

Paul Makepeace ....................................... http://paulm.com/

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