While many people are aware of a serious decline in the quality of journalism in the U.S. during the past few decades, few people seem to realize the dire implications of a startling series of events that took place between 1997 and 2003 and culminated in a court decision legalizing lies and deception in broadcast news. Yes, the nervous system of what was formerly known as U.S. democracy has grown cancerous and the attending doctors are telling us that everything is fine.
In 1997, Journalist Jane Akre and producer Steve Wilson had just been given a weekly news program in which they were going to bring “hard hitting” news to Fox affiliate WTVT in Florida. They worked on a story they thought was of supreme importance to the public. Traces of Posilac, a recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) had been found in milk throughout the United States. Studies – even those done by Monsanto, the manufacturer of Posilac – showed levels of toxicity dangerous to human health, including definite links to cancer. A study was published in the January 1996 issue of the International Journal of Health Services which came to the conclusion that consuming milk from cows injected with rBGH increases risks of colon and breast cancer. However, the results were never included in the final report to the FDA. Did Monsanto keep this important information from the government agency or did they buy secrecy at the expense of the U.S. public? Either action shows evil intent that should bring serious jail time to those responsible. This is an unforgivable tragedy, but this story is about events that transpired in so-called “news” offices and a U.S. courtroom which have legalized distortion of the news and manipulation of minds in the U.S.
FOX management tried to stop the story at the outset. After refusing to drop it, the reporters were offered a bribe to keep quiet about the toxicity of the milk, Monsanto’s attempt to censor them and FOX’s corporate response of trying to kill an important story. Next, a compromise was agreed upon in which the reporters and Fox management (propagandists) would work together to come up with a version amenable to both sides. After being forced to rewrite the story 83 times and still not being able to find common ground, Akre and Wilson realized that Fox and Monsanto never had any intention of allowing news of corporate deception about toxins in milk to reach the public. The two declined to take part in a doctored version full of lies and distortions that would be nothing more than a coverup. They knew that this would allow vile criminals to get away with feeding dangerous toxins to the public – especially to children – and that it would be tantamount to taking part in the crime. They were subsequently fired by Fox and a corporate-friendly version was aired to Florida residents. Management said the firing was due to insubordination by the journalists. Well, if caring about the health of your fellow citizens is insubordination, it should be rewarded. The arrogance of the Fox management team can best be summed up with this statement one of their executives made to Steve Wilson:
“We just paid $3 billion for these television stations. We’ll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is.”
The journalists documented this information and brought a lawsuit against the network for being dismissed for “resisting WTVT’s attempts to distort or suppress the Monsanto rBGH story.” It was obvious to anyone who followed the story that Fox was guilty of a manipulative attempt to censor news important to the well-being of the public in deference to the financial interests of Monsanto, a client who advertised with the network.
The trial took place in 2000 and the jury denied most of the claims in the lawsuit, but held up Jane Akre’s claim for whistleblower status stating that she had reason to believe WTVT had violated provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1934. Fox appealed the ruling and, in 2003, the Florida Second District Court of Appeals reversed it, arguing that the FCC’s policy regarding falsification of news did not qualify as a proper “law, rule or regulation” under Florida whistleblower statutes. They declared that it was a matter of corporate policy and up to individual news outlets what standard they decided to have regarding the veracity of the material they broadcast. Of course, the ruling didn’t state that Fox hadn’t falsified the news story on rBGH, just that media outlets had the right to lie and distort facts when broadcasting the news.
Now, that should have been showcased on television news programs and been on front pages of newspapers across the country. The fact that it wasn’t, shows just how detrimental to the public’s well-being having corporations provide news can be. Can we afford to allow corporations to be responsible for determining what is important in society? Can we allow them to decide what we discuss? Even though, time and again, they have shown a blatant disregard for truth, justice and human life? And, how about the Florida Second Court of Appeals deciding that truth just isn’t important enough to be included in the news? We’re not talking about a mindlessly stupid half hour sitcom, but the NEWS.
It’s been said that the first casualty of war is truth. Well, in this instance, the war is against truth and the casualties are the millions of people who have, and will, become sick because some greedy sociopaths want to make a killing. And, killing is exactly the right word for it.
Just a footnote on the health impact of this story: There are STILL corporate-funded organizations in the U.S. intimating that milk from cows treated with rBGH has no ill effects on human health. The people who are being paid by Monsanto and Big Pharma to disperse this vile propaganda are too slick to come right out and say there is definitely no impact on human health through consuming this synthetic hormone. They dance around the facts and say that the studies are inconclusive – which means they admit that there could be detrimental effects on human health. So, at best, the corporate-controlled FDA is content with allowing children in the U.S. to be used as guinea pigs. That must make the pharmaceutical corporations very happy as it provides them with yet another generation of sick people to turn into drug addicts.