NEXT DEVELOPMENT:
Trial Continues 
Plaintiffs Continue To Present Testimony; Fox Officials To Be Called 

Report Archive:

Ž July 18, 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

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FOX DEMANDS A MISTRIAL,
JUDGE STEINBERG SAYS 'NO'
By STEVE WILSON
         TAMPA (July 21, 2000)—Just minutes after the jury began hearing more testimony in the Fox/BGH trial here Friday morning, Fox attorney William McDaniels demanded the judge declare a mistrial in the case.  
          McDaniels claimed that co-plaintiff Jane Akre had improperly influenced the jury in the way she answered a question submitted by one of the jurors.  (A new Florida law gives jurors the right to take notes and pose questions to any witness in a state court trial that lasts longer than five days.)

AKRE ON THE STAND
Her Answer Caused A Stir
        Akre had finished two days of testimony and cross-examination and had returned to the witness chair to answer a number of questions posed by jurors. 
          One of the jurors passed a note to the judge asking this question: “What if anything was Ms. Akre doing between October 1997 and September 1998 (employment).”
          In her response, Akre said she was still employed by Fox until December 2, 1997 and until that date she was still talking with station attorneys and others at WTVT in an effort to get the BGH story on the air. 
          The Fox attorney leaped to his feet with an objection, the jury was asked to leave the courtroom, and the defendant’s counsel told the judge that Akre’s comment unfairly prejudiced the jury in a way the defendant could not hope to repair. 
          He claimed the fact Akre even mentioned conversations with Fox attorneys had improperly revealed to the jury that settlement discussions were going on between the parties. 
          McDaniels claimed the response violated the judge’s pre-trial ruling that no details of the second Fox offer to pay off the plaintiffs could be disclosed to the jury.  (Out-of-court settlement discussions are not revealed because if they could be used as evidence in trial, it would discourage people from ever even attempting to settle disputes without filing a lawsuit.)
          The defense attorney charged that because the lawyers for both sides were advised of the questions the night before, Akre had deliberately constructed her answer to sneak in testimony that the judge had already ruled inadmissible.  
          In denying the motion for a mistrial, the judge decided that Akre’s answer did not infer any settlement discussion but only, as the witness actually said, that there were talks aimed at getting the BGH story on the air.            
       
Fox’s effort to derail the trial came just a day after the defendant lost its repeated bids to block the testimony of Ralph Nader.  Nader told the jurors that

JUDGE STEINBERG
"Motion Denied"
broadcasters have a legal and ethical duty to do act in the public interest, not just in the interest of what may be best for their corporate bottom line.
          “Of course I am no lawyer but it seems to me the defendant would not be trying to stop this trial if they believed it was going well for them,” Akre said of the motion for a mistrial.         


FOX/BGH JURY LISTENS TO TESTIMONY
(Note: Juror in Front Row, Far Right Has Been Excused)

        The fired reporter was also asked by a juror if she and her family still consume dairy products. 
        
She answered that as a result of her investigation into BGH, she now buys and consumes only milk from cows not injected with the artificial hormone.

Journalism, Science Experts Testify
         After Akre completed answering at least seven questions from the jurors, journalism expert Forrest Carr took the stand for the plaintiffs.
         Carr, was a news manager in Tampa where he directed an award-winning investigative unit before becoming news director for the ABC station in Tucson in 1998.  He has also co-authored a journalism textbook, writing portions that deal with journalism ethics.


FORREST CARR
"Stand Up For Truth"
           Carr told the jurors that the foremost obligation of all journalists no matter where they work is to seek the truth and report it fairly and accurately. 
       
     He went through the BGH script mandated by Fox managers and repeatedly pointed out problems.  Stopping on virtually every page, he cited important information that was missing or presented without necessary context.

         The witness testified that he had carefully reviewed the alternative version the reporters prepared and found it to be a much better story which could have been even stronger. 
          The news manager said he had also read many of the documents in the case, including a number of contentious memos back and forth between the reporters and their Fox news managers.  He testified that sometimes when news managers are not responding to a reporter’s concerns about ethical issues, it is important and necessary that a journalist raise his voice.
          Carr said reporters must remember at all times that their duty is to the public and to report the facts without undue influence by the subjects of the story.  Corporate concerns about the ultimate cost of such reporting must always come second, he said, pointing out that stations can elect not to do any investigative reporting at all if news organizations want to minimize risk.
            Carr said he never saw any evidence that Akre and Wilson “crossed the line” into insubordination or improper conduct of any kind in the newsroom or elsewhere.  He said the reporters had a duty to tell their news managers of their concerns and to resist reporting information they believed to be false or misleading.
             He also testified that quitting and just walking away from such disputes in not in the public interest, although most reporters really have no other practical choice.        
          
Dr. Michael Hansen, Science Expert         
           Dr. Michael Hansen of Consumers Union followed Carr on the stand.
          
Hansen testified about the process of FDA approval for the product and safety assurances the government and others have given. 
           He explained that insufficient testing for human toxicity means there is no assurance the product is safe for milk drinkers.  Consumers Union has called for a ban on use of rBGH until adequate testing is done.
        After questioning by Akre attorney Tom Johnson of the Tampa firm of Chamblee & Johnson, Hansen told co-plaintiff Wilson who is representing himself in the suit, that the FDA and its scientists have made conflicting statements about whether hormone injections change the composition of the cow’s milk. 
          Wilson showed the jury, and Hansen confirmed, that even though the FDA has said “there is no difference,” it has also reporting statistically significant changes in the levels of IGF-1, a potent cancer promoter in humans.
          The trial resumes Monday at 8:30 a.m. when the Plaintiffs will show excerpts of the videotaped deposition of Daniel Webster, the former Fox news director who hired and promised to support the work of Akre and Wilson. 

Other Coverage:

Broadcasting Magazine: Bad Blood Over Sour Milk

 

Stories Posted Recently:

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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