[sixties-l] Fwd: Censored Alert: rBGH Fox News Trial

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Jul 18 2000 - 16:58:40 CUT

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    >Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 17:24:29 -0500 (CDT)
    >From: Project Censored <censored@sonoma.edu>
    >Subject: Censored Alert: rBGH Fox News Trial
    >For immediate release
    >July 14, 2000
    >Ralph Nader, Walter Cronkite On Witness List
    >Fired Journalists Stand Up To Media Empire;
    >Whistleblower Case Is First Of Its Kind
    > While an increasing number of Americans suspect mainstream news
    >organizations sometimes twist the news, two veteran investigative
    >journalists say they are ready to prove in court how Fox television
    >managers and lawyers at WTVT Fox 13 in Tampa ordered them to deliberately
    >distort news reports and then fired them for resisting those directives.
    > The landmark whistleblower lawsuit is believed to be the first time
    >any journalist has ever filed a claim against his own news organization
    >and offered evidence of behind-the-scenes manipulation of the news.
    > When the trial begins next Monday, reporters Jane Akre (pronounced
    >A'-cree) and Steve Wilson say they will show exactly how Fox hired them
    >and advertised their reputations for hard-hitting investigations but then
    >folded and pressured them to slant a story in favor of an advertiser who
    >threatened "dire consequences" if their reports were broadcast.
    > CBS journalist Walter Cronkite and public interest advocate Ralph
    >Nader are both on the plaintiffs' witness list, despite efforts by Fox
    >attorneys who desperately sought to block their testimony.
    > The trial will pit the two fired journalists with Wilson representing
    >himself for more than two years in an effort to save money on legal fees,
    >and Akre represented by a small Tampa firm,against the powerful Washington
    >law firm of Williams & Connolly, the same lawyers who represent President
    >Bill Clinton personally. To get their day in court, the plaintiffs have
    >sold their home, spent their life savings battling the media giant, and
    >say they have been branded as media traitors never likely to get another
    >good job in the business again.
    > To the amazement of most legal observers, the reporters paved their
    >way to court by defeating three Fox motions to summarily dismiss the case
    >without a trial. Those victories were engineered by Akre's legal team led
    >by John Chamblee and Tom Johnson.
    > At the heart of the dispute is a series of reports produced by Akre
    >and Wilson revealing the widespread and virtually secret use of a
    >synthetic hormone being injected into dairy cows throughout Florida and
    >much of the U.S. The hormone causes cows to produce more milk.
    > The investigative reports that Fox abruptly pulled from its schedule
    >in early 1997 would have revealed that without the consent or approval of
    >milk drinkers and those who serve it daily to their children, use of the
    >synthetic hormone has altered what used to be called nature's most nearly
    >perfect food.
    > The stories would have also disclosed for the first time that leading
    >grocers now admit they quietly broke their 1994 promises not to buy milk
    >from hormone-injected cows until the practice achieved widespread
    >acceptance. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of consumers do
    >not want artificial hormones in their milk and would avoid such milk if it
    >were labeled. No dairy anywhere is known to label its milk as coming from
    >cows injected with artificial hormones.
    > Although legal in America, the artificial bovine growth hormone (rBGH)
    >has been banned in Canada, throughout Europe, and elsewhere due in large
    >part to concern about health risks for milk drinkers. One of the chief
    >concerns is that while the growth hormones do cause the cows to produce
    >more milk, the milk is changed in a way that could promote breast, colon
    >and prostate cancer.
    > "In wake of the two written threats1,2 from Monsanto to Fox News
    >chief Roger Ailes, we were asked to put Fox's interest in its own bottom
    >line ahead of the public interest," said plaintiff Steve Wilson. Monsanto
    >is the multi-national chemical company that makes the genetically
    >engineered hormone.
    > "When the president of Fox Television Stations saw those threats,
    >that executive who controls more television stations than anyone in
    >America simply ordered his lawyers to 'take no risks' with the story."
    >Wilson said. The executive's directive has been confirmed in sworn
    >testimony from two Fox attorneys3,4 in the written notes of one them.5
    > "And we have also discovered, in another handwritten note of one of
    >the broadcaster's attorneys, that if they tried to kill the story and word
    >leaked out, it would be a major p-r problem for Fox'" said co-plaintiff
    >Akre. "So they decided to eliminate their risk by pressuring us to
    >placate Monsanto and essentially lie to the public. No decent journalist
    >can ever do that."
    > The reporters will testify that Fox managers first threatened to fire
    >them for insubordination, then offered them a six-figure deal to entice
    >them to go along. When the pair refused, they say they were strung along
    >for months re-writing the story 83 times in an effort to get it on the air
    >before being suspended, locked out, and ultimately fired by Fox for what
    >the broadcasting company claimed was "no cause."
    > The reporters will not be able to tell the jury about a second deal
    >Fox offered to pay each reporter a whole year's salary for no-show jobs as
    >"news consultants" in exchange for their leaving quietly and never
    >disclosing to anyone what they learned regarding the milk or the quality
    >of Fox journalism. The trial court ruled that the second six-figure deal
    >was actually made to try and avoid a lawsuit. To encourage out-of-court
    >settlements, such offers cannot be admitted into evidence when disputes
    >cannot be settled without a trial.
    > The issue has drawn world-wide attention as a result of a website the
    >journalists posted the day their lawsuit was filed. The reporters, who
    >happen to be married to each other, have also traveled far and wide to
    >accept invitations to speak about genetically engineered milk and their
    >experiences with Fox. They have vowed not to personally benefit from
    >their efforts to publicize the story Fox refused to tell.
    > Many of the documents from the suit are posted on the World Wide Web
    >For further information or to arrange interviews:
    >Jane Akre or Steve Wilson (727) 796-6504 or wilson@citicom.com
    >John Chamblee or Tom Johnson, Akre's Attorneys (813) 251-4542
    >Greg Ruggiero | Seven Stories Press | www.sevenstories.com
    >* Project Censored Online http://www.projectcensored.org *
    >* Come and join our listserv for Censored Story updates *

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