Friday, June 26, 2009

welp, it's official

Yes, Fox News has won a court ruling that holds that broadcasters have a 1st Amendment right to deliberately distort news or outright lie on the air. This is a ruling that Fox News sought, and that their lawyers fought for:

A Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

Hey, at least they're being honest about their dishonesty.

No, this cuts to the chase on the old, tired argument I get when I try to trash Faux News to true believers: 'Oh, but all the news lies, it's just a matter of their view.'

Yes, it is true, in the simplest sense of true, that all news is by definition biased. There can be no truly objective news, because it is presented by humans, who have biases. However, this court ruling shows that Fox News, and Fox News alone, as far as I know, deliberately sets out to distort the truth as a matter of course.

And the fact that so many people not only buy into these lies, but actually seek out these lies because they are simple, and straightforward, and don't challenge the consumer to think for himself--this is what spells our doom as a species. We prefer comfort, we prefer simplicity, and we shy away from challenges. We are soft, in body and in mind, and in my more pessimistic moods, I see Fox News as a stalking horse for a future in which we are ever dumber, and ever more controlled.

That may sound a bit apocalyptic, but you have to admit, we are getting dumber. And it is also demonstrable that dumb people are easier to control than smart people, those who ask questions. So does it make sense, therefore, that those who seek to control might wish to deliberately seek out ways to make and keep people dumber?

Or maybe that's just dumb...

I wonder what's on tv.


Bluesborn said...

Thanks for this story.With this ruling one can imagine Fox cranking up the deceit another notch or two..if that's even possible.How do they top themselves?

theHatist said...

I don't think that we are getting dumber- I think that more people are having their voices heard. Most reasonable people go about their business without standing on soapboxes and screaming like lunatics.

The loonies just have found a bigger soap box, and people are temporarily paying attention before going on about their merry way.

The same developments in technology that have given the right-wing crazies the new soap box are also going to give their children access to the means for a better education. The christian right wing is panicked by education- who among us with a real education believes that a magical blue-eyed, blond haired man created the world 6000 years ago?

This is why they fight any progress whatsoever- because progress spells the end of their ignorant hate-based superstitions.

gravyrug said...

The date on the original story was 2003, is that right? If so, why are we only now hearing about it? Seriously, why hasn't this been brought up every time MSNBC (or anybody else, for that matter) goes after Fox?

Anonymous said...

tick tock tick tock hear that? that's the sound of time running out on your freedom to even write this kind of dissension in an open forum. soon enough, kiddies, it will be illegal to engage in this kind of anti-state/anti-media diatribe. this is what you all get for letting them get away with the patriot act...

StewartIII said...

"This case was all about reporter Steve Wilson and his wife, working not for FNC but for a Fox affiliate in Florida (it would later be a Fox-owned station but this all began when it was still independent). The kerfuffle was over their report on the safety of a Monsanto food additive. The station refused to air the original version deeming it one-sided. Wilson and Wife, having refused to allow Monsanto's point of view in the story, were eventually let go, and a report aired without their participation. Lawrence Grossman in the Columbia Journalism Review stated it was:"
'a strong and effective three-part investigative series on the subject, produced by a different reporter, Nathan Lang. His series was hardly any different in substance from the versions that Akre and Wilson and the station had been battling over the previous year.'
"So much for the Fox plot to bury the story. As for the truth of the allegations, the Washington Post summed it up:"
"Wilson and Wife sued WTVT. The jury threw out Wilson's case, but found for his wife on the issue of wrongful termination of a whistleblower. Then the appeals court stepped in with its widely cited (but rarely quoted verbatim) decision.

Keep in mind that the court did not find anything about the 1st Amendment giving broadcasters the right to "legally lie". How could that be relevant, as there was no issue in the case involving "lying", and the court was never asked to rule on any such issue. The court's decision (which makes no mention of the 1st Amendment) resolved an employment dispute, centering on the issue of whether Wilson's wife qualified under the legal definition of "whistleblower". They found that she did not, based on a complicated technicality. Whistleblowers expose violations of laws, rules, or regulations. The FCC does have policies regarding "news distortion", but do they amount to a "rule"? The court didn't find that they did, but said even if they did amount to a "rule", there was another impediment. To apply in a termination suit Florida law required that rules be "adopted" rather than put in place via an adjudicative procedure. For those reasons, Ms Akre's victory was reversed, leaving both plaintiffs with unsuccessful verdicts.",%202003/2D01-529.pdf
"Wilson and his cohorts claimed that the court "ruled" that media have the right to lie, despite the fact that the court made no such ruling and there was no "lying" at issue in the suit. This spin was echoed by Salon, Biotalk, and others. Then this week's post from ceasespin made it Big News all over again."
"Today Steve Wilson is a reporter for WXYZ-TV in Detroit, where his antics are still raising eyebrows and questions. A specialist in "ambush" journalism, Wilson is nonetheless a hero to the blue blogs and Fox haters who attack Bill O'Reilly for the same tactic."
FOX News Haters Week In Review

Anonymous said...

Stewartill is a liar. The Fox News channel's lawyer said, IN COURT, that "A news program was not obliged to report the truth.", so, in part, their case was about the ability to lie on a news show.

The mistake now being made is that there ought to be a class action suit against this station for false advertising, as the news is supposed to be current events, which of course can only be events if they are true, otherwise it isn't an event is it? It's just someone's imaginings.