February 28, 1997
BY FAX AND BY HAND
Mr. Roger Ailes
Dear Mr. Ailes:
I find it nothing short of that one week after my detailed letter to you about the concerns of my client Monsanto Company involving Fox's new O&O television station in Tampa Florida WTVT-TV, I should be writing to You again to advise you that the situation has not improved, but clearly worsened in term of the irresponsible approach being taken by WTVT's news correspondent, Jane Akre. Attached hereto is a copy of a letter Ms. Akre sent by facsimile yesterday a to Monsanto's Gary Barton responding to his request for details about "issues" which Ms. Akre claimed warranted a further video interview of Dr. Robert Collier, a Monsanto executive and scientist. Dr. Collier recently provided Ms. Akre with a wide-ranging 1 1/2 hour on camera interview. In a faxed letter of February 26, Ms.. Akre stated that there am "some issues which may require further clarification and responses from Dr. Collier." Mr. Barton replied: "Please tell us what,these questions are so that we at Monsanto can work to find the best possible source or sources for that information. Whether the response can be best be provided by more documentation, a spokesperson other than Dr. Collier or referral to spokespersons and sources outside Monsanto fully depends on your questions."
Instead of the details that one would have expected Mr. Barton's request to elicit, Monsanto, as you can see, has been presented, with a list of eight "points" and an urgent request that Dr. Collier be made available to these points on camera as early as today, Fox News senior news management should closely examine Ms. Akre's list, It simply defies credulity that an experienced journalist would expect a representative of any company to go on camera and respond to the vague, undetalled - and for the most part accusatory-points listed by Ms. Akre, Indeed, some of the points clearly contain the elements of defamtory statements which, if repeated in a broadcast, could lead to serious damage to Monsanto and dire consequences for Fox News. When a reporter asks to interview someone about "claims" of "improper conduct", basic faimess requires identification of the person who made the allegations, their substance, when and where made, and whether there is any documentation to support them. Likewise, Oe suggestion that a Fox News correspondent would consider using a characterization such as "crack for cows" in a broadcast report about PROSILAC® has such obvious negative consequences arising from its defamatory implications that I hope you are as shocked as I was to see it in Ms. Akre's list.
Ms. Akre's list, its vagueness, and its pejorative and defamatory characterizations very clearly indicate that the development of this series of reports requires close, continuing attention from you and/or other senior news executives of Fox. Some of the points on Ms. Akre's list can be responded to and we expect that Monsanto's Gary Barton will, early next week, be sending her information which is responsive,. On such points we see no need to have a further on-camera interview of Dr. Collier or anyone else from Monsanto in which their likely fate is to become the target of accusations repeated by Ms. Akre by unidentified and, in all probability. scientifically incompetent persons.
Monsanto and Fox News have a common interest here: establishing the facts. We are not at all certain that Ms. Akre and Steve Wilson value that interest, as opposed to sensational sound bites which will impugn both PROSILAC® and Monsanto's corporate behavior. Until Ms. Akre is prepared to provide details about the source and substance of these claims and characterizations, Monsanto's willingness to provide facts in response to most of her "points' must remain on hold.
Again. I remain available for any questions or discussion you or any of your news executives or counsel may have.
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