"belief" standard  


Subject: "belief" standard  
From: "John Sugg" <john.sugg@creativeloafing.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 12:34:12 -0400  
To: <wilson@citicom.com>, <plainjanee@aol.com>  

 Steve, since there is disagreement, including in your recent communications  
to us, on what was at issue -- belief or actual distortion -- I referred, as  
I have in the past, to the trial transcript, the morning of July 12, 2000.  
In it, your side -- Jane's lawyer -- strongly argues against not only having  
to prove distortion, but he says: "It doesn't have to be reasonable (belief)  
at all. The statute says suspected (violation) -- just suspected."

As I'm sure you'll recall, WTVT wanted you to have to prove actual  
distortion. Your side argued the belief standard. Jane's attorney argued it  
would be "absurd" to have to prove actual news distortion.

You yourself stated: "If Mr. McDaniels is suggesting that we have to  
prove -- we're actually going to have two trials within a trial. We're all  
worried about how much time we're going to spend, we're going to have to  
spend the whole time proving that they violated the law. And that will --  
we'll be her until Christmas."

The court ruled: "The plaintiff, in order to prevail, doesn't have to prove  
there was, in fact, a violation of the law -- a law, fule or regulation.  
...To have the jury in this case determine that, in fact, there was a  
violation of the law or a rule or regulation, I think that would be going to  
far."

That ruling governed the jury instructions, however convoluted the syntax --  
indeed, in your appellate briefs, you make the same arguments for the  
"belief" standard (I'll quote those if you want).  

Anyway, you're welcome to comment on this issue.

       ______________________________________________________

    "Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity  
       in the context of professional journalism." 
                  
-- Hunter S. Thompson

John Sugg  
Senior Editor  
Creative Loafing  
Atlanta, Georgia  
John.sugg@cln.com
 
404-614-1241

-----Original Message-----
> From: Steve Wilson [mailto:wilson@citicom.com]
> Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2003 2:09 PM
> To: John Sugg
> Cc: Ken Edelstein; Neil Skene; Jane Akre
> Subject: Re: "belief" standard>
> There were a great many arguments made during the five-week trial, most of
> which you did not attend.  That is not to say, however, that we are disputing
 the out-of-context quotes provided to you by Fox attorneys in support of their
(and your) opinions.>> What matters most here is the unanimous finding of a jury 
that heard five> weeks of testimony and opposing "spins" and reviewed the evidence.
Whether we had to prove it as a matter of law or not, the jury clearly did
see and hear enough to conclude the story was false, distorted, or slanted—and not
that Jane and I merely BELIEVED it was.  Had they not, as I have explained, they
could not have then determined either of us was entitled to anything.
> After all, how do you award a judgment to a whistleblower when you don't
> believe the object of the defendants' objections are wrong/improper/illegal in any way?
> Do you think they would have awarded $425,000 based on a threat to complain
> to the FCC that news director wore ugly ties to work every day?
>> Twist all the words you want.  Do your best to adopt and support the spin
> your Fox friends have pushed since their loss in court.  Voice whatever 
OPINION you wish to label as your own interpretation.  But you should not fail 
to report  the fact that the jury said what it said.  And again, unanimously,
 the jury concluded:
>> "...that the Defendant (Fox)…terminated her employment…because she
> threatened to > disclose to the FCC under oath and in writing the broadcast of a false,
> distorted, or slanted news report..."
>> Yes, indeed, it went on to say she reasonably believed the broadcast of
such  a report would violate the prohibition against intentional falsification 
or distortion of the news on television if it were aired”--but it clearly did  
NOT say, as much as you wish it WOULD, that she merely believed the story was 
false, distorted or slanted.
Sugg Sept 26th—wants more on reasonable belief 

Steve, since there is disagreement, including in your recent communications
to us, on what was at issue -- belief or actual distortion -- I referred, as
I have in the past, to the trial transcript, the morning of July 12, 2000.
In it, your side -- Jane's lawyer -- strongly argues against not only having
to prove distortion, but he says: "It doesn't have to be reasonable (belief)
at all. The statute says suspected (violation) -- just suspected."

As I'm sure you'll recall, WTVT wanted you to have to prove actual
distortion. Your side argued the belief standard. Jane's attorney argued it
would be "absurd" to have to prove actual news distortion.

You yourself stated: "If Mr. McDaniels is suggesting that we have to
prove -- we're actually going to have two trials within a trial. We're all
worried about how much time we're going to spend, we're going to have to
spend the whole time proving that they violated the law. And that will --
we'll be her until Christmas."

The court ruled: "The plaintiff, in order to prevail, doesn't have to prove
there was, in fact, a violation of the law -- a law, fule or regulation.
...To have the jury in this case determine that, in fact, there was a
violation of the law or a rule or regulation, I think that would be going to
far."

That ruling governed the jury instructions, however convoluted the syntax --
indeed, in your appellate briefs, you make the same arguments for the
"belief" standard (I'll quote those if you want).

Anyway, you're welcome to comment on this issue.

______________________________________________________
"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity
in the context of professional journalism."
                         -- Hunter S. Thompson

John Sugg
Senior Editor
Creative Loafing
Atlanta, Georgia
John.sugg@cln.com
404-614-1241