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He Who Has the Most

Money Makes the Rules

 

 A recent letter prompted me to revisit the Fox / Akre case. I didn't focus on the case at the time because it got almost no TV coverage -- which in itself is curious.

The case involved Fox News and two award-wining journalists who thought that the U.S. whistle-blowing law would support their rights.

That's exactly what that law was designed to do and the case seemed clear-cut.

But they didn't count on the clout of big money.

>>If you have the money (Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire behind Fox News) and Monsanto (a multi-billion dollar chemical corporation) you can afford to hire one of the most successful law firms in the country, mangle the original intent of the law, and win your case.

The decision not only subverted the original intent of the whistle-blower law, but subverted what any reasonable person would deem to be just and right.

The bottom line was (and there was wide agreement by those who reviewed the case): Fox News has a legal right to lie and distort their news and their reporters can be forced to go along with it.

As one Fox executive said in effect, "The news is what we say it is."

Plus, it was okay for Fox to fire award-winning reporters who wanted to protect their reputations and that of their profession by refusing to lie and distort the facts in a story that involved major health consequences for the public.

>>There are those who try to maintain that the verdict wasn't about the right of Fox News to lie and distort the truth, but an Internet search shows that most observers who have studied the case think that's exactly what this case boils down to.

Plus, in this case -- a clear application of the intent of the whistle-blower law if there ever was one -- those who initiated the case against Fox were told they would be responsible for the costs of all of Fox 's court costs in the very lengthy process.

Incredibly, one source put that at tens-of billions of dollars.

>>So, sadly, the bottom-line message these corporations leave you with is: it doesn't matter about the intent of the law, and it doesn't matter how just you feel your cause is, don't try to fight deep-pocket U.S. corporations.

>>We've only scratched the surface on this case. It was a lengthy Florida court ordeal. If you have doubts about what we've said, we encourage you do to your own Internet search on Jane Akre and Fox News.

>>According to their own accounts (see the video noted below), Akre and her husband were offered a bribe early on to go away and never speak of the case again.

That didn't happen, and as a result we've learned a lot.

Mostly things we would have preferred not to have learned.


>>A 10-minute documentary piece featuring the two principles in the case and what ensued can be found on YouTube   --- or at:

[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1pKlnhvg0 ]

This account is distressing for any news professional or aspiring news professional but definitely worth seeing.

In case you want to look it up the case it's New World Communications of Tampa, Inc. d.b.a WTVT-TV (appellant) v. Jane Akre (appellee) case No. 2D01-529 of the District Court of Appeal of Florida, 2nd District.

Of course, this is just the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to ton how mega corporations seek to control (generally very effectively) what you are allowed to know and not know.


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