NEXT DEVELOPMENT:
Trial Continues 

Plaintiffs Continue 
Presentation of
their Case in Chief"

Report Archive:

Ž August 5, 2000:
Guest Editorial


Ž July 27, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 8-9
Startling Admission from Fox
V-P Who Fired Wilson/Akre

Ž July 26, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 7
V-P News Lays Claim To
Insanity Defense

Ž July 24, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 6
Second week of trial begins

Ž July 21, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 5
Week one ends with a bang;
Fox seeks mistrial, Judge
says no

Ž  July 20, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 3 and 4 

Ž July 18, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 2


Ž July 17, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 1

Ž July 14, 2000:
Justice For Sale In Tampa?
Finally at the courthouse,
litigants can't afford to use
the courtroom facilities

Ž July 12, 2000:
Fox Loses Key Motion; Jury
Is Seated

Plaintiffs do not have to
prove Fox guilty of violating Communications Act

Ž July 8, 2000:
Potential Landmine Could
Derail Entire Case

Ž June 30, 2000:
Judge Steinberg Ready To
Get Case Back On Track

Ž June 26, 2000:
Another Judge Says 'No' to Hearing Wilson/Akre v Fox Case

Ž June 21, 2000:
Still No Judge To Hear Fox/BGH Case While Foxes Dishes More Distortion To WTVT Tampa Viewers

Ž June 16, 2000:
Trial Date Pushed Back Again; New Judge To Be Selected

Ž June 8, 2000:
Fox  Manager Who Fired Akre and Wilson In Tampa Gets Big Promotion 
David Boylan Flies Into The Sunset to Manage KTTV, Los Angeles

Ž June 6, 2000:
Fox Trial Will Start Sooner Than Expected
It will proceed in the heat of the summer, probably in July

Ž May 25, 2000:
Fox Trial Will Not Start June 12 as Scheduled

Ž May 18, 2000:
Fox Still Stalls on Testimony of Its president Mitchell Stern
Pre-trial hearing is otherwise uneventful

Ž May 8, 2000:
Ralph Nader Testifies About Broadcasters' Public Interest Requirement
Presidential candidate gives testimony at pre-trial depo 

Ž May 5, 2000:
Court-ordered Mediation Is Brief and Unsuccessful
Trial set to begin June 12

Ž April 28,2000:
Fox Challenges rBGH Experts At Depositions

Fox lawyers laying ground-
work to tell jurors experts are cancer scaremongers?

Ž April 26,2000:
Walter Cronkite Testifies on Behalf of Akre & Wilson
Fox lawyers lodge objections

Ž October 19:
Fox Lawyers Insist On Secrecy At Deposition
French TV Ejected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ž 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)

Ž January 25:
ENS Summary of BGH Developments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ž October 24:
Reporters Get Top SPJ Ethics Award

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

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

Ž Sept 13:
Akre-Wilson Depos Start

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

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

Ž Sept 8:
Fox Pulls Plug on NutraSweet Foe

Ž Sept 1:
Reporters Respond To Defense

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

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

Ž July 5:
OBSERVER/London
Digger Still Plays Dirty

Ž July 1:
Depositions Continue, Trial Date Set

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

Ž May 26:
Judge rejects Defense motion
for Protective Order

Ž May 25:
WEEKLY PLANET/Tampa:
Grazing A Stink - - -Don't Have a Cow

Ž May 23:
NEW YORK TIMES:
(Silenced) Reporters... Post Web Site

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

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

 In Her Own Words
JANE AKRE REACTS TO VERDICT
       
         I'm so happy not just for Steve and me but for all the countless people we know that supported us throughout this whole ordeal.  We are thrilled for our hard-working lawyers who have never stopped giving everything they have, and for the folks who have prayed for us and sent us their support. I know there are many of you.  I don't think I ever really understood the power of prayer until this case.













      

         On the first day of trial, as we drove to the courthouse, Steve and I saw something we had never seen before or since, a flock of swizzle-stick pink flamingos gathered around the edge of a pond on a golf course.  It looked surreal.  And that same week we saw a deer in our backyard, another rare occurrence in the over-populated suburbia we now call home.  And then as we headed to court the second week, a full rainbow arched over our car as we drove.
        I could have used one of those rainbows last Friday as we waited the longest six hours of our lives for the jury to come back with a verdict in our case.  
         Steve and I always knew in our hearts and minds that after the Fox-owned station in Tampa was threatened by Monsanto, the direction of my story about bovine growth hormone had changed dramatically.  There has never been any doubts in our minds that with virtually every cut, trim, and edit to this four-part series, the public interest suffered at the hands of the station's lawyers who were afraid that telling the truth would cost their client big bucks.  
 
        As you may have read, Steve and I held hands when the clerk read the verdict form,  The jury answered the first question--"Do you find that the Plaintiff, Jane Akre has proven, by the greater weight of the evidence, that the Defendant...terminated her employment or took other retaliatory personnel action against her because she opposed or refused to participate in the broadcast of a false, distorted, or slanted news report..."
         "NO!" the clerk read.
        Oh, God, we've lost, I thought.  Moments earlier, the jurors, every one of them,. failed to look at us when they entered the courtroom to announce their decision.  Steve was kind enough to whisper that observation to me as they filed into the courtroom.  


ALTERNATE JUROR GOLD SPEAKS

And I was still reeling from a little talk we had with the alternate juror.  Right after he was dismissed, he talked with Steve and me and the Fox folks and the few reporters who happened to be there.
        There was nothing happy to hear from that man and "suits" from Fox were salivating.  
        Alternate juror
Bruce Gold told us that everything likely gives us cancer and, after all, BGH has already been approved by the FDA for use in dairy cows.  He wasn’t worried about any BGH health risks.  I decided after listening to him for several painful minutes that the truth of a courtroom verdict is always subject to the personal biases each juror bring into the courtroom at the start of the trial.

        And, back in the courtroom now,  the clerk reads the second question the jurors had to decide:  "Do you find that the Plaintiff Jane Akre has proven by the greater weight of the evidence that the Defendant...terminated her employment...because she threatened to disclose to the Federal Communications Commission...the broadcast of a false, distorted or slanted news report..."
        The clerk paused for what seemed like 5 minutes before he uttered the word, "YES!" in his booming voice.
        "Oh, God,"  I gasped as he went on to read the damages..  
       
"$88,725 for last wages," he read.   I gasped again.  "$120,750 for lost earning capacity and $215,525 for other damages."    
        Tears filled my eyes.  That jury of three women and three men decided the report was just what we said it was: "false, distorted, slanted."  And they found that our threats to go and report that kind of misconduct to the FCC was why I was fired from my job.  
        Never mind the money, we got exactly what we went to court to get.  We has just won the Whistleblower charge that most people said we would never even get us to court.
       
        I was disturbed, though not terribly surprised, to see that Fox viewers who watched the late evening news on WTVT wouldn’t have been sure what 
WE DISTORT, YOU DECIDE?
actually happened in court Friday.
        On the station's 6 o'clock news, which I watched with my lawyers at their office, we all commented on how accurately and fairly they reported the news.  
        Anchorwoman Kelly Ring said quite clearly, "...the jury found the station violated the state whistleblower law" when they fired me.  But the the time the 10 o'clock news hit the air, it was different story.  Fox lawyers and p-r wizards had time to get it spinning like a top.
        By 10:31 p.m. when the station buried the story in the late news, the report was that WTVT was "completely vindicated."  A Fox attorney from L-A was seen telling viewers the jury's decision "does not have to do with distortion of the news."  
       
HUH!!?   The station's guilty verdict on the Whistleblower count means exactly that, no matter how fast you spin it. 
        I am still trying to understand how a station just found guilty of distorting the news could have the unmitigated gall to do it again in reporting their loss.  Do these high-paid lawyers really not understand the verdict, or are they slanting the news, again, for their own gain?   
       
Whistleblower protection has to do with retaliation.  Remember, the question posed to the jurors was essentially this: did Fox retaliate because I "refused to participate in," AND/OR because I "threatened to disclose" the broadcast of a false, distorted or slanted news report?   The jury verdict does not say I had a "reasonable belief" the story was slanted, it says clearly that the story WAS false and slanted and my "reasonable belief" was that the FCC would have validated my claim. 
        "Completely vindicated",  but Fox-13 says "they will appeal the damages awarded to Akre".   How can those two statements co-exist?  We've always known that Rupert Murdoch's empire cannot suffer a loss like this.  Just think what other doors to litigation were thrown open late last Friday at a "news organization" known to send reporters scripts to investigative targets so they can edit them before they air.  We had a witness from the Fox station in Kansas City set to testify that is exactly what they did there to his early investigative reports into Dursban, the chemical now banned by the government.  
        So what will happen from here?  My prediction is that heads will likely roll within the Fox organization.  When you play the corporate game and there is a loss like this to answer for, someone always pays with their career.  
        Since Dave Boylan has already escaped the muggy Florida summer heat to a promotion as General Manager of the Fox-owned station in balmy Los Angeles,  Phil Metlin could be the most likely candidate to suffer a fall.  
         Carolyn Forrest, hidden away in her in-house counsel job for Fox in Atlanta could suffer the fallout as well.  After all, she was the one who admitted in writing that Fox retaliated against us because we stood up to Fox and insisted on an truthful, honest story.  Her letter opened the door for Whistleblower charge they lost Friday night.  Forrest shot me one of those long, if-looks-could-kill glare as she headed for the courthouse door.   
        Of course, I feel the worst for Steve.  He put all he had into this lawsuit.  It was his money that financed it, his efforts issuing many subpoenas and conducting depositions in five states and the District of Columbia. 
        He wrote many of his own motions that kept us in the ballgame for nearly two years.  And frequently it was Steve's efforts in the courtroom where he teamed with my very bright 

STEVE WILSON
Did He Pay Toll For Tough Courtroom Questions?
lawyers  that shed light on many issues Fox wanted to obscure.    
       
Unfortunately there can be a toll for exposing the truth, especially when if it takes aggressive, hard-hitting and very direct questions that can offend as much as they can enlighten.  
        My husband knew this as he stood up to make his closing argument.  That's why
Steve told the jurors if they didn’t like his direct, no-sense approach in the courtroom or the newsroom, all he could do is pray they could understand why it was necessary in a case like this.  
        And then, to the surprise of me and both my lawyers sitting at our table, he turned and gestured toward me and reminded the jurors that nobody ever complained about my style or approach to getting this story on the air.  In a voice that many had to strain to hear, Steve then pointed out, "Her style is a whole lot softer than mine...but you know, she was just as fired.
        "In fact," he continued, "she was more fired--she lost a full-time job.  But if you think I was over-the-top, too aggressive, please don't take it out on her."
         That must have hit a chord with those six.   
       
   For me, it's past time now to get back to our daughter Alyx Anne.  She was the reason we stood up for the story in the first place.  We believe parents have the right to know how the milk they feed to their children has been adulterated with a chemical not thoroughly tested for long-term human safety.
        You cannot, and you should not, be a parent who is not be a fierce protector of your children. You cannot and you should not be a journalist without being a fierce defender of the truth as you know it.  
        Sadly, those things don't always seem in vogue today.
        
        So today we are pleased but we know we are not finished with this fight.  We are facing at least a year and possibly two of appeals.  Fox, which has already spent an estimated $3 million or more, will spend another million or whatever it takes to try and nullify the $425,000 verdict of those six jurors.  
        But in a sense, none of that will matter now.  This jury's verdict will forever be a matter of public record...and public shame for these people who call themselves Fox journalists.  
        As Walter Cronkite said not long ago, journalists should not have to check their ethics at the newsroom door.  Now, as a result of this landmark case, they know they can turn to the court for help if they decide to blow the whistle some day.  
        And for all the rest us, isn't it nice to know: the truth can sometimes still win out--even in a courtroom!

 

 CLICK HERE to return to "Victory" Page

 

Stories Posted Recently:

GUEST EDITORIAL:  WAKE UP, YOU WATCHDOGS

TRIAL COVERAGE:  STARTLING ADMISSIONS FROM FOX V-P WHO FIRED WILSON/AKRE

TRIAL COVERAGE:  INSANITY DEFENSE FOR FOX?

TRIAL COVERAGE:  SECOND WEEK BEGINS

TRIAL COVERAGE:  WEEK ONE ENDS WITH BANG

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAYS THREE AND FOUR

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAY TWO

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAY ONE


JUSTICE FOR SALE AT THE COURTHOUSE?

FOX AIRS ANOTHER DISTORTED STORY ON rBGH

TRIAL DELAYED; NEW JUDGE TO BE CHOSEN

FOX MGR WHO FIRED JOURNOS GETS PROMOTED TO FOX'S SECOND-BIGGEST STATION

TRIAL TO START SOON, LATE JUNE/EARLY JULY

TRIAL DELAYED AGAIN WILL NOT START 6/12

FOX STALLS ON TESTIMONY OF ITS PRESIDENT

RALPH NADER TESTIFIES RE PUBLIC INTEREST

MEDIATION IS BRIEF AND UNSUCCESSFUL

FOX CHALLENGES PLAINTIFFS' rBGH EXPERTS

CRONKITE TESTIFIES FOR AKRE & WILSON 


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