Truth, sometimes, is stranger than fiction. But Fox news does not find truth strange enough or compelling enough to sustain a news program; fiction is evidently required. Exaggerations and outright falsehoods are part of any well-wrought news program, in their view. And the FCC agrees.
The story is well summarized here. It starts in December 1996 when reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Aker were hired by a Fox affiliate in Tampa. They were assigned to cover a story about Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone.
Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story.
But the reporters refused to comply and threatened to tell the FCC. They were fired. In 2000 they won $425,000 in damages in a jury trial. In 2003, the Second District Court of Appeals overturned the verdict. Fox argued that the first ammendment allows them to lie. The FCC said it violated “policy” but it was not a “rule” or a “law.”
So there you have it. Fox has fought a legal battle to allow it to broadcast fictions, lies, fabrications, and falsehoods under the pretense of delivering news. And with the support of the FCC it has won.
Hey. You can’t make this stuff up!
Thanks to Arizona Eclectic for the heads up.