NEXT DEVELOPMENT:
Awaiting decision from May 15th 2002 Appeal Court Hearing on Fox, Wilson Appeals
 

Report Archive:


Ž April 9, 2002:
Akre Appeal and Documents


Ž April 9, 2002:
Wilson Appeal and Documents


Ž November 2, 2000:
JURY VERDICT STANDS

Ž October 12, 2000:
JUDGE RELUCTANT TO SET ASIDE JURY VERDICT
Fox gets 15 days to submit 
new brief 


Ž September 7 2000:
BOTH SIDES APPEAL JURY VERDICT
Trial judge will hear
arguments October 12

Ž 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"

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

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

Reporters' Victory Affirmed
   JUDGE RULES JURY VERDICT
    SHOULD NOT BE SET ASIDE

                                By STEVE WILSON AND JANE AKRE
 
Atty JOHN CHAMBLEE
Preserved The Victory
       TAMPA (November 2, 2000)--
After patiently listening to many of the same arguments Fox Television lawyers have presented before, Florida state court Judge Ralph Steinberg ruled today he sees no strong basis to overturn his previous rulings or the jury verdict in the case of whistleblowing reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson.  
        In a separate ruling, Steinberg also 
said that he did not have discretion to hear Wilson's request for a new trial because the reporter missed by four days the statutory deadline for filing papers with the court.  The investigative reporter says the jury was unable to return a verdict for him because of faulty juror instructions.  
        Today's decision means the jury's verdict in favor of Akre and its $425,000 damage award to her will be officially entered, leaving both Wilson and Fox the opportunity to appeal to a three-judge panel at Florida's Second District Court of Appeals.
        Fox is certain to appeal and has 30 days to file formal notice of its intention to do so.  The broadcaster must also post an $850,000 bond to assure payment to Akre if the appeal is not successful--but the reporter will not get a penny of the award while the matter continues to drag through the judicial system.  The next level of the process is expected to take at least a year. 
        At the outset of today's hearing, Judge Steinberg asked Fox attorney William McDaniels if he had found anything new to support his motion that the jury's verdict be set aside.
        "Yes, your Honor, we have," McDaniels said before reviewing a two-year old case the defendant has cited before.  The lawyer who headed the losing effort at the five-week-long trial last summer is a member of the firm Williams & Connolly of Washington.   
        Akre was represented Thursday by John Chamblee and Tom Johnson of the same firm that won a favorable verdict from the jury last August 18.  Chamblee has since left the Tampa area to concentrate on work at a company involved in several ventures on behalf of actress Sandra Bullock who is Chamblee's niece. The attorney has continued to fly back to Tampa for court hearings in the matter.       
        At this morning's hearing, McDaniels argued that a 1998 case (AT&T v Pacific Bell) supported his position that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation for a television licensee to use the public airwaves to present false and distorted news reports.
        
To prevail under Florida's whistleblower law, a plaintiff must prove he or she was fired or otherwise retaliated against by an employer, either for refusing to participate in or for threatening to report an activity that is against any law, rule or regulation.  A six-member jury unanimously concluded that Akre was fired for threatening to report Fox's Tampa television station to the FCC after she and Wilson were pressured to broadcast false and distorted news reports about an artificial hormone in milk.  
        In the AT&T case, the court ruled that "the FCC is empowered to announce its filings by order rather than codified regulation, and its orders have the full force and effect of law." 
        Chamblee cited a whole line of cases stemming from an FCC decision known as Hunger In America  in which the commission set forth its anti-news distortion policy and vowed to take action whenever broadcast licensees act inappropriately by willfully distorting news reports. .  
        Fox conceded such FCC orders and opinions that have set forth anti-distortion rules are "enforceable and have the force and effect of law" but argued they just cannot qualify as a statute or ordinance, nor as a "rule or regulation adopted pursuant to any federal statute" as required by the language of Florida's Whistleblower law.  
        "An order," Fox lawyers wrote in their motion to the court, "even one with the force and effect of law, is not a 'law, rule, or regulation' under the (state) Whistleblower Act."  
        The defendant also made another run at its oft-repeated claim that the reporters never really threatened to disclose Fox misconduct to the FCC before receiving their termination notices.  Such notification is also part of the Florida law.
        Akre attorney Chamblee insisted there was plenty of evidence at and before the trial that such notice was given and, obviously, the jury believed it, he said.
       With regard to the claim that no law was violated when Fox lawyers pressured its reporters to lie on the air, Chamblee said that the courts have affirmed that the FCC's mandate that licensees of the public's airwaves act in the public interest.  "The FCC is empowered to issue rulings by order and that has the effect of law." he argued.  
        "None of that has changed since the Hunger in America case more than 30 years ago when the FCC ruled it was a 'most heinous act against the public interest' for any licensee to falsify, slant or distort a broadcast news report," he said, brimming with frustration.
       Akre and Wilson, who are married and remain unemployed since their firing, were both terminated by Fox in December of 1997. They filed suit in April 1998. The case is the first time journalists have used a whistleblower law to report the misconduct of their own news organizations.  
        At the end of the hearing, Judge Steinberg, who leaves the bench at the end of December, told both sides,  "I've heard enough, I've struggled with this, it's not absolutely clear in my mind, however I don't see any strong basis to overturn 
what I've done. I'm going to deny the motion and let it stand as it is not absolutely clear and I don't want to substitute my judgment for the jury.
        "Motion for a directed verdict is denied," he ruled.    

Stories Posted Recently:

JUDGE RELUCTANT TO SET ASIDE JURY VERDICT; GIVES FOX 15 DAYS TO SUBMIT ANOTHER BRIEF

BOTH SIDES FILE APPEALS OF JURY VERDICT

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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