August 5, 2000:
July 27, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 8-9
Startling Admission from Fox
V-P Who Fired Wilson/Akre
July 26, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 7
V-P News Lays Claim To
July 24, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 6
Second week of trial begins
July 21, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 5
Week one ends with a bang;
Fox seeks mistrial, Judge
July 20, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 3 and 4
July 18, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 2
July 17, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 1
July 14, 2000:
Justice For Sale In Tampa?
Finally at the courthouse,
litigants can't afford to use
the courtroom facilities
July 12, 2000:
Fox Loses Key Motion; Jury
Plaintiffs do not have to
prove Fox guilty of violating Communications Act
July 8, 2000:
Potential Landmine Could
Derail Entire Case
June 30, 2000:
Judge Steinberg Ready To
Get Case Back On Track
June 26, 2000:
Judge Says 'No' to Hearing Wilson/Akre v Fox Case
June 21, 2000:
Judge To Hear Fox/BGH Case While Foxes Dishes More Distortion To WTVT Tampa
June 16, 2000:
Date Pushed Back Again; New Judge To Be Selected
June 8, 2000:
Manager Who Fired Akre and Wilson In Tampa Gets Big Promotion
David Boylan Flies Into The Sunset to Manage KTTV, Los Angeles
June 6, 2000:
Will Start Sooner Than Expected
It will proceed in the heat of the summer, probably in July
May 25, 2000:
Will Not Start June 12 as Scheduled
May 18, 2000:
Stalls on Testimony of Its president Mitchell Stern
Pre-trial hearing is otherwise uneventful
Testifies About Broadcasters' Public Interest Requirement
Presidential candidate gives testimony at pre-trial depo
May 5, 2000:
Court-ordered Mediation Is Brief and
Trial set to begin June 12
Fox Challenges rBGH
Experts At Depositions
Fox lawyers laying ground-
work to tell jurors experts are cancer scaremongers?
Testifies on Behalf of Akre & Wilson
Fox lawyers lodge objections
Fox Lawyers Insist On Secrecy At Deposition
French TV Ejected
FDA Wants Comments on G-M Foods
Public Meetings Start in November
Judge Rules: Trial Will Proceed:
Defense loses third effort to have case dismissed
Gene-modified foods might get labels:
Industry weighs voluntary steps, U.S. studies options as well
Trial Still Set to Start Soon:
Busy Docket Delays foxBGHsuit
Will the fight over gene-altered food products leapfrog across the Atlantic?
UN Health Group Shuns BGH
New York Times:
Farmers Right To Sue Grows - Food Warning Muzzle Likely
Corporate Crime Reporter:
Monsanto Officials Join Leading Consumer, Environmental Groups
Fox Deceives Viewers in Primetime,
Net Admits Staging after INSIDE EDITION Report
Democracy Group Award to
Fired Reporters Cited for "Courage in Journalism"
New Trial Date is October
Fox Piles On Big-Name Lawyers
Clinton Lawyer Joins Fox
David Kendall Involvement Confirmed in Letter to Monsanto
Fox Pleads for Another Delay
Later Trial Date to be Set April 29th
Judge Says BGH Case Will
Go To Trial
Opening Gavel Falls May 10th
PENTHOUSE Exposes BGH,
First-rate story of BGH situation and lawsuit against Fox TV
(rated G -- no nudity, just the story)
Summary of BGH Developments
How Fox Wanted to Slant News
of Canadian Concerns
Canadian BGH Concerns Were Big Issue In Firing of Fox Reporters
Canada Says NO to BGH!
Read the CBC Story or
Health Canada Rejects Bovine Growth Hormone in Canada
Government News Release
Akre & Wilson Win Courage
For Work On Story Which Cost Them Their Jobs
ABC NEWS Catches Up on BGH
Read the ABC Story or
FOX Legal (8/28) Answers
to Reporters' Complaint Now Available
and Fox: Partners in Censorship
PR Watch - Showcase Article
Canadians Probe Coverup Claim
Read CBC Story or
Reporters Get Top SPJ Ethics
BGH Issue Explodes in Canada:
Read CBC Story or
SECRET Canadian Study Leaked...
...BGH safety questions unanswered?
Akre-Wilson Depos Start
SP Times covers NutraSweet flap
Our Story: Fox Still Protecting
Fox Pulls Plug on NutraSweet
Reporters Respond To Defense
story FOX-TV refused to air...
Judge refuses to dismiss
all but one count of reporters' suit
Digger Still Plays Dirty
Depositions Continue, Trial Date
Akre/Wilson Preparing FCC Complaint
Judge rejects Defense motion
for Protective Order
Grazing A Stink
- - -Don't Have a Cow
NEW YORK TIMES:
(Silenced) Reporters... Post Web Site
Wilson/Akre demand on-air correction
FOX-TV asks court:
and Delay depositions
In Her Own
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
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
ALTERNATE JUROR GOLD
|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 wasnt 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
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.
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
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 wouldnt have been
WE DISTORT, YOU
actually happened in court Friday.
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
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."
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
Did He Pay Toll For
Tough Courtroom Questions?
that shed light on many issues Fox wanted to obscure.
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 didnt 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
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.
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!
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