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THE CORPORATION [17/23]

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In a world economy where information is filtered by global media corporations keenly attuned to their powerful advertisers who will defend the publics right to know? And what price must be paid to preserve our ability to make informed choices? [Unsettling Accounts] What Fox Television told us was that we were just the people to be the investigators. Do any stories you want ask tough questions and get answers. So we thought, this is great this is a dream job. Fantastic. The very first thing they had us do was not to research stories but to shoot this promo which was... The Investigators. Uncovering the truth, getting results, protecting you. and they had a film crew, a smoke machine, we were silhouetted... One of the first stories that Jane came up with was the revelation that most of the milk in the state of Florida and throughout much of the country was adulterated with the effects of bovine growth hormone. With Monsanto I didn't realize how effectively a corporation could work to get something on the marketplace. The levels of coordination they had to have. They had to get university professors into the fold. They had to get experts into the fold. They had to get reporters into the fold. They had to get the public into the fold, and of course the FDA lets not leave them out. They had to get the federal regulators convinced that this was a fine and safe product to get it onto the marketplace. And they did that; they did that very very well. Posilac is a single most tested product in history and is now available to you specifically, so you can increase your profit potential. The federal government basically rubber stamped it before they put it on the marketplace. The longest test they did for human toxicity was 90 days on thirty rats. And then either Monsanto misreported the results to the FDA or the FDA didn't bother to look in depth at Monsanto's own studies. The scientists within Health Canada looked very carefully at bovine growth hormone and came to very different conclusions than the Food and Drug Administration in the U. S. did. Monsanto's engineered growth hormone did not comply with safety requirements. It could be absorbed by the body and therefore did have implications for human health. Mysteriously that conclusion was deleted from the final published version of their report. I personally was very concerned that there's a very serious problem of secrecy conspiracy and things of that nature. We have been pressured and coerced to pass drugs of questionable safety including rBST. We wrote the story. We had it ready a week beforehand. They bought ads ...farmers in the milk industry say it's safe but studies suggest a link to cancer. Don't miss this special report from The Investigators... That Friday night before the Monday the series was to begin the fax machine spit out a letter from this very high priced lawyer in New York that Monsanto had hired. It contained a lot of things that were just off-the-wall false. Just demonstrably false, but if you didn't know the story and you didn't know how wed gone about producing it would have scared you as a broadcaster, or as a manager. And they decided that they would pull the story and they would just check it one more time. But the bottom line was that there was no factual errors in that story. Both sides had been heard from, both sides had had an opportunity to speak. One week later Monsanto sent the second letter and this was even more strongly worded. And it said there will be "dire consequences" for Fox News if the story airs in Florida. And this time they freaked. They were afraid of being sued and losing advertising dollars. And all of the stations owned by Rupert Murdoch. And he owned more television stations than any other group in America. That's 22 television stations. That's a lot of advertising dollars. For Round Up Aspartame Nutra Sweet and other products. So we got into a battle. And the first deal was the new general manager... His name's Dave and Dave is a salesman. And you know he'd pump your hand how ya doin, how ya doin? Called us upstairs to his office and he said what would you say if I killed this piece? What if it never ran? And we said, well, you know, we wouldn't be very happy about that. And he said, well I could kill it you know and we said yes of course you're the manager you could kill it it would never air. And he hemming and he shamming. He's back and he's forth. And we couldn't figure out what is this all about and finally he blurted out: Look, would you tell anybody? You know I said I'm not going to lie for you. And about a week later he calls us back to the office and says okay would like you to make these changes. In fact you will make these changes. We said, well, look let us show you the research that we have, that shows that this information you want us to broadcast isn't true. To which he replies: I don't care about that. I said, pardon me? And he said, well that's what I have lawyers for, Just write it the way the lawyers want it written. I said, you know, this is news. This is important. This is stuff people wanted to know. And I'll never forget he didn't pause a beat and he said, we just paid three billion dollars for these television stations. Well tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is. I said I'm not doing that. and he said, He said: Well, if you refuse to present this story the way we think it should be presented you'll be fired for insubordination. I said I will go to the Federal Communications Commissions and I will report that I was fired from my job by you the licensee of these public airwaves because I refused to lie to people on the air. And it's thank you very much you'll hear from us right away. Well 24 hours came and went and we didn't hear a thing. And about a week later he calls us back and now we've changed strategies. How about if we pay you some money and you just go away? And I said, how much money? Because when somebody offers to bribe you like that I always want to know if it might be worth it. He was going to offer us the rest of our years salary if we agreed not to talk about what Monsanto had done, to not talk about the Fox corporate response in suppressing the story. And to not talk about the story. Not talk about BGH again anywhere. Not take this story to another new organization. Zip up. I said, you mean if I want to go to my daughter's PTA meetings and explain what's in the school milk at the school lunch program, I can't? No you can never speak about this anywhere. Steve says, OK write it up. And I'm like what are you talking about write it up? And I didn't say anything. And Dave, he wrote it up, and he FedEx it to us a couple of days later. And he said are you going to sign? And we said, nah Dave, we're not going to sign that. And he said, well send it back, OK? We said, no Dave, were not going to send that back. It was, OK we can't buy you out, we can't shut you up lets get the story on the air in a way that we can all agree it will go on the air. And we started rewriting and editing with their lawyers. During this eight month re-review process I say, jokingly, they did things like for example they wanted to take out the word cancer. You don't have to identify what the potential problem is just say human health implications. Any criticism of Monsanto or its product they either removed it or minimized it. And it was very very clear I would say almost every edit they made to the piece that was the aim. And we changed this and this and this. And then that wasn't good enough OK now change this and this. Now change this and this. Version after version after version. 83 times. 83 times is unheard of it doesn't happen you shouldn't have to rewrite something 83 times Obviously they didn't want to put the thing on the air and they were trying to drive us crazy and get us to quit or wait until the first window in our contract so that they could fire us. They in effect announced that they were going to fire us for no cause. Well this was a little much. And Steve wrote a letter to the lawyer in Atlanta whose name is Caroline Forest the Fox corporate lawyer. And I said, you know, this isn't about being fired for no cause. You're firing us because we refused to put on the air something that we knew and demonstrated to be false and misleading. That's what this is about. And because we put up a fight, because we stood up to this big corporation, and we stood up to your editors, and we stood up to your lawyers. And we said to you, look there ought to be a principle higher than just making money. And she wrote a letter back and said you are right that's exactly what it was. You stood up to us on this story and that's why we're letting you go. Big mistake. Big mistake. That says retaliation. You can't retaliate against employees if they're standing up for something that they believe is illegal, that they don't want to participate in. So that gave us the whistleblower status, that we needed in the state of Florida to file a whistleblower claim against our employer. Two or three years later we got the trial. Five weeks of testimony led to a jury verdict of $425,000 in which the jury determined that the story they pressured us to broadcast, the story we resisted telling was in fact false, distorted or slanted. Fox News appealed the verdict. Five major news media corporations filed briefs with the court in support of Fox appeal. [3 years later] You may recall that Jane Akre a former reporter here sued Fox 13 in a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that she was fired for refusing to distort her report; the Appeals Court today threw that case out saying Ms. Akre had no whistleblower claim against the station based on news distortion. Fox 13 vice president and general manager Bob Linger says the station has been completely vindicated by the ruling... What Fox neglected to report is this: Jane sued Fox under Florida's whistleblower statute which protects those who try to prevent others from breaking the law. Buther Appeal Court judges found that falsifying news isn't actually against the law. So they denied Jane her whistleblower status overturned the case and withdrew her $425,000 award. Canada and Europe have upheld the ban on rBGH. But it remains hidden in the milk supply of the United States.

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: MARK ACHBAR and BART SIMPSON
Director: MARK ACHBAR and JENNIFER ABBOTT
Views: 205
Posted by: rafaelmatheus on May 30, 2010

Journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired by the Fox News television station they work for after refusing to change their investigative report on Posilac, a Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) made by Monsanto. Their research documents potential health and safety problems of drinking milk treated with the synthetic hormone, but threatened with legal action from Monsanto, Fox wants the negative effects played down. The court eventually throws out Akre's whistle blower lawsuit after deciding that the media is allowed to lie.

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