NEXT DEVELOPMENT:
October 12 in Tampa
Trial Judge Hears Appeal From Both Sides of Fox/BGH case

Report Archive:

ˇ August 26, 2000:
VERDICT DOESN'T STOP FOX FROM CONTINUING TO DISTORT THE NEWS
News, Analysis and Commentary about how Fox twists news of verdict and  reports "total vindication"

ˇ August 18, 2000:
VICTORY IN COURT!
Full coverage of the jury's decision in the Fox/BGH suit

ˇ August 5, 2000:
Guest Editorial


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

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

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

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

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

ˇ July 18, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 2


ˇ July 17, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ˇ 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:
OBSERVER/London
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:
WEEKLY PLANET/Tampa:
Grazing A Stink - - -Don't Have a Cow

ˇ May 23:
NEW YORK TIMES:
(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

    FOX, WILSON BOTH
 SEEK COURT ACTION IN  WAKE OF JURY VERDICT

                                          By STEVE WILSON
         TAMPA (September 7, 2000) –After publicly claiming that the jury’s verdict in the Fox/BGH suit completely vindicated Fox Television's good name and reputation, Fox lawyers have filed a motion and a 62-page memo asking the trial court to vacate the jury’s decision and to grant a directed verdict in favor of the broadcasting company.  Many of the points are succinctly summarized in the Table of Contents which itself runs two full pages. 
Fox/BGH Suit Appeals Filed
         In a surprise move, reporter Steve Wilson, one of the two fired Fox journalists who filed the suit with co-plaintiff Jane Akre, also filed a separate motion on his own behalf late last Friday (September 1, 2000) asking the court to correct a ruling regarding the jury instructions and to order a new trial on only his whistleblower claim.
        Both motions are expected to be heard on October 12, 2000 by judge Ralph Steinberg who presided over the trial which  ended August 18.
Fox’s Argument

           The Fox motions are based on the following five grounds: 

·        There is insufficient evidence to support the jury’s $425,000 damage award it gave to Akre after finding that Fox retaliated against her for threatening to blow the whistle to the FCC

·        Akre failed to establish that there is any “law, rule, or regulation” against lying or distorting the news on a television

·        Akre failed to establish that the station’s conduct was actually in violation of any law, rule or regulation (if there is one)

·        There is insufficient evidence that Akre ever had a good-faith belief that Fox was deliberately and intentionally trying to distort the news, as the jury found it was

·        No court has the power to determine that a television station is not acting in accordance with the law that requires broadcasters to operate in the public interest because only the FCC can make such a determination.

        A key argument Fox makes is that the standard which all broadcasters must meet to get a license to use the public airways—the requirement that they operate every station in the public interest, convenience and necessity—could not ever be violated by any broadcaster anywhere. 
        “Although a broadcast licensee like WTVT certainly could ‘violate’ rules or regulations that the FCC promulgates to flesh out the public-interest standard, there are no rules or regulations relating to news distortion, only a policy,” the Fox lawyers argue.
        “And in the absence of rules or regulations, it simply is not possible for WTVT or any broadcast licensee to ‘violate’ the enabling statute itself,” Fox contends. 
        The defense brief makes no mention of at least two cases in which stations actually lost their licenses for deliberately distorting the news.  In those cases, the FCC appears to have relied upon exactly the standards which Fox now argues do not apply to the Fox/BGH suit.
        Virtually all of the points argued in these latest motions have been argued by Fox lawyers before, either at trial or in pre-trial motions the defendant lost.  If judge Steinberg does not reverse himself and, as widely expected, refuses to grant these latest Fox motions, the defendant would then be required to post an $850,000 bond and take its arguments  to the state’s Second District Court of Appeals.
        [Editor's note: For anyone interested, you can download and print the entire 62-page Fox legal memo in support of its motion.  With a 56k connection, this pdf document take about six minutes to download.]

Wilson’s Argument

        Wilson’s Motions For Re-hearing and Re-trial  center upon the judge’s instructions to the jury that it must decide the sole reason for the firing of both Wilson and Akre was the exercise of each worker’s rights protected under the Whistleblower law.
        Although the jury found in Akre’s favor, it did not reach such a finding for Wilson and, therefore, awarded him no damages whatsoever.
        The instruction at issue, proposed by Fox lawyers over the strong objections of Wilson and Akre’s attorneys, read as follows
        “You must determine whether the Defendant WTVT terminated the employment of Ms. Akre And Mr. Wilson because they objected to or refused to participate in an activity or practice of the Defendant that violated a federal law…If you determine that this was the reason for Defendant’s termination of plaintiffs’ employment, then your verdict should be for Plaintiffs.
        Elsewhere in the instructions the jury was remanded it was to follow this wording as well:
        “An employee may not recover in any action brought under the private whistleblower statute if the retaliatory personnel action was predicated upon a ground other than the employee’s exercise of a right protected by the whistleblower statute.”
        During the trial, Fox had argued to the jury that there were a number of other possible motives for Wilson’s termination..  The Plaintiff, representing himself, argued those were actually only a pretext for the real reason, which was his resistance to orders to distort the news on the air.
        Wilson’s argument that the jury instructions were in error are centered upon a case which was decided by an appeals court virtually on the even of the Fox/BGH trial.
        In a case known as Sierminski v. Transouth Financial Corporation, a court ruled that the standard of proof applied by federal courts in cases where employment discrimination is claimed should also apply to state court rulings involving whistleblower claims.
        Whenever an employment discrimination case is filled under federal Title VII—claims which allege wrongful termination due to age, sex, or race, for instance—the plaintiffs must prove that those protected conditions were “a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also motivated the termination.”
       The Sierminski court ruled that lower courts in Florida should apply the same standard when it comes to Florida Whistleblowers claims.   Judge Steinberg will be asked to re-consider his earlier ruling which appears to be inconsistent with Sierminski.  
        Since the jury cannot be re-convened to make a decision based on new instructions, a new trial on Wilson’s claim alone  is the only remedy.  As a separate plaintiff, such a decision would have not no effect on the verdict the jury decided in Akre's favor.

ADDITIONAL NEWS COVERAGE: 

8/17/00 Weekly PlanetYour Witness (John Sugg's bitter personal attack which relies on demonstrably false information to conclude Akre and Wilson are "cheap, false martyrs" unworthy of support from anyone.)  

9/5/00 St. Petersburg TimesVerdict Not Expected To Affect TV News

9/7/00 Weekly Planet: Win Some, Lose Some

 

Stories Posted Recently:

DELIBERATE DISTORTION OF NEWS ON FOX TV CONTINUES WITH FALSE REPORTS OF VERDICT

VICTORY IN COURT -- FULL COVERAGE OF THE JURY'S VERDICT IN THE FOX/BGH SUIT

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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