Next Development:   April 28 in Chicago Plaintiffs BGH expert 
Dr. Samuel Epstein is deposed by Fox lawyers  

Report Archive:
ˇ October 19:
Fox Lawyers Insist On Secrecy At Deposition
French TV Ejected

ˇ October 18:
FDA Wants Comments on G-M Foods
Public Meetings Start in November

ˇ October 13:
Judge Rules: Trial Will Proceed: Defense loses third effort to have case dismissed

ˇ September 24:
MSNBC: Gene-modified foods might get labels:
Industry weighs voluntary steps, U.S. studies options as well

ˇ September 20:
Trial Still Set to Start Soon: Busy Docket Delays foxBGHsuit

ˇ August 4:
MSNBC: Mutable Feast:
Will the fight over gene-altered food products leapfrog across the Atlantic?

ˇ June 30:
Consumers International:
UN Health Group Shuns BGH

ˇ June 1:
New York Times:
Farmers’ Right To Sue Grows - Food Warning Muzzle Likely

ˇ May 10:
Corporate Crime Reporter:
Monsanto Officials Join Leading Consumer, Environmental Groups

ˇ May 3:
Fox Deceives Viewers in Primetime, Too
Net Admits Staging after INSIDE EDITION Report

ˇ April 30:
Democracy Group Award to Akre/Wilson
Fired Reporters Cited for "Courage in Journalism"

ˇ April 29:
New Trial Date is October 11
Fox Piles On Big-Name Lawyers

ˇ April 17:
Clinton Lawyer Joins Fox Legal Team
David Kendall Involvement Confirmed in Letter to Monsanto

ˇ April 16:
Fox Pleads for Another Delay
Later Trial Date to be Set April 29th

ˇ April 1:
Judge Says BGH Case Will Go To Trial
Opening Gavel Falls May 10th

ˇ February 16:
PENTHOUSE Exposes BGH, Fox Coverup:
First-rate story of BGH situation and lawsuit against Fox TV (rated G -- no nudity, just the story)

ˇ January 25:
ENS Summary of BGH Developments

ˇ January 14:
How Fox Wanted to Slant News of Canadian Concerns
Canadian BGH Concerns Were Big Issue In Firing of Fox Reporters

ˇ January 14:
Canada Says NO to BGH!
Read the CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ January 14:
Health Canada Rejects Bovine Growth Hormone in Canada
Government News Release

ˇ December 16:
Akre & Wilson Win Courage Award
For Work On Story Which Cost Them Their Jobs

ˇ December 15:
ABC NEWS Catches Up on BGH
Read the ABC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ November 7:
FOX Legal (8/28) Answers
to Reporters' Complaint Now Available

ˇ November 1:
Monsanto and Fox: Partners in Censorship
PR Watch - Showcase Article

ˇ October 30:
Canadians Probe Coverup Claim
Read CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ October 24:
Reporters Get Top SPJ Ethics Award

ˇ October 22:
BGH Issue Explodes in Canada:
Read CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ October 7:
SECRET Canadian Study Leaked...
...BGH safety questions unanswered?

ˇ Sept 13:
Akre-Wilson Depos Start

ˇ Sept 10:
TIMES/St. Petersburg
SP Times covers NutraSweet flap

ˇ Sept 10:
Our Story: Fox Still Protecting Monsanto?

ˇ Sept 8:
Fox Pulls Plug on NutraSweet Foe

ˇ Sept 1:
Reporters Respond To Defense

ˇ READ story FOX-TV refused to air...
or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ July 14:
Judge refuses to dismiss
all but one count of reporters' suit

ˇ July 5:
Digger Still Plays Dirty

ˇ July 1:
Depositions Continue, Trial Date Set

ˇ June 7:
TIMES/St. Petersburg
Akre/Wilson Preparing FCC Complaint

ˇ May 26:
Judge rejects Defense motion
for Protective Order

ˇ May 25:
Grazing A Stink - - -Don't Have a Cow

ˇ May 23:
(Silenced) Reporters... Post Web Site

ˇ May 21:
Wilson/Akre demand on-air correction

ˇ April 29:
FOX-TV asks court:
Dismiss case and Delay depositions




        NEW YORK (April 25, 2000)—Amidst a hailstorm of objections from the lead counsel representing Fox, Walter Cronkite has testified on behalf of two veteran journalists suing the network’s O-and-O in Tampa.


     Cronkite appeared for more than an hour Tuesday in a conference room at CBS headquarters here to provide expert testimony about the pre-broadcast/legal review process and the proper role of those involved—the journalists, their news editors and executives, and the attorneys hired to protect the interests of the broadcasting company.

     In a lawsuit set for trial June 12, reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre have charged they were suspended, locked out and ultimately fired from WTVT for refusing orders from station lawyers and management to slant a series of investigative reports.
     Fox has denied any wrongdoing and claims the journalists refused reasonable editorial oversight.
      Cronkite, the dean of broadcast journalism and frequently referred to as "the most trusted man in America," stepped down as managing editor and anchor of The CBS Evening News in 1981. Since then he has continued to work as a Special Correspondent for CBS News and has frequently spoken out against the direction TV news has taken in the last several years.
       Always a supporter of the highest ethical standards in journalism, Cronkite has recently assailed what he’s called the "dumbing down" of news broadcasts and the philosophy that the bottom line has lately become the only line at many news organizations now owned and controlled by large corporations with few if any roots in journalism. (see  Cronkite's latest statement)
      Without offering any judgments on the specific facts at issue in the Tampa case, Cronkite testified that every journalist has a strong duty to resist reporting false and distorted information, and responsible news organizations do not let lawyers dictate editorial decisions.
        "There is no one better than Walter Cronkite to help us explain to a Tampa jury just what are the bounds of good and ethical journalism," said plaintiff Wilson.
         "Given what sometimes passes for news these days, local viewers could do with a reminder of what journalists and news broadcasters are supposed to stand for," he added.

       Patricia Anderson, once lead defense counsel in the case before Fox replaced her with McDaniels, did not appear at the Cronkite deposition, although Fox sent one its New York attorneys to observe. Asked why she was absent from such an important deposition, Anderson said, "I didn't want to see an old man embarrassed."
      It was not immediately clear which older gentleman she meant, Cronkite or her own legal colleague McDaniels.


       Cronkite joins consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the plaintiff’s expert witness list. Over the objections of Fox lawyers, the trial court judge has not objected to Nader being called to explain the public interest requirement that all broadcasters are legally required to follow.
       Fox has admitted it was under strong pressure from Monsanto, a subject of Wilson and Akre’s reports about bovine growth hormone and its effects on the public milk supply in Florida and throughout much of the country. Monsanto, a Fox advertiser, threatened "dire consequences" if the Wilson/Akre reports were broadcast. WTVT, one of 22 stations that are part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has denied any wrongdoing.
       "Mr. Cronkite is going to be this jury’s journalistic compass," explained co-plaintiff Jane Akre. "He is going to remind the jurors about the high road many news organizations no longer travel these days.
        He will make it perfectly clear what should and should not happen in the final review process when stories are edited for broadcast. He’ll make it clear what ought to happen when the public interest clashes with a news organization’s own selfish interest to maximize its profits.
        "And after he lays the foundation about the journalist’s duty to resist pressures to distort the news, we’ll present a host of other witnesses and solid evidence that Fox fired Steve Wilson and me merely for insisting on high ethical standards that WTVT managers and lawyers wanted to ignore," Akre added.
       William McDaniels, lead defense counsel for Fox in this case, lodged vociferous objections to Cronkite’s testimony in an impromptu telephone hearing with the trial judge just prior to the deposition. Judge Ralph Steinberg held the long-distance telephone hearing after he was called because the parties could not agree on the procedural grounds for the deposition to go forward.
        Since McDaniels reserved his objections for trial, Fox is now expected to try and convince Judge Steinberg that since Cronkite is neither a lawyer nor an expert on broadcast law, his testimony should not be heard by the jury.
        "What kind of a news organization needs to put distance between itself and Walter Cronkite, the unassailable champion of ethical journalism in America?" asked plaintiff Wilson.
        "When Walter Cronkite says ‘That’s the way it is,’ viewers know he’s not influenced by any interest other than the truth and the public interest. That is precisely what this lawsuit is all about—and exactly the standard that Fox fears the jury may apply in this case," he said.

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