Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie

According to this story:

This is the first time I have ever used one of these, but I believe it is warranted:
:eek: :eek: :eek:

Over the years I have bitched and moaned and criticized the media for its slant, bias and the little, pertinent facts that it conveniently leaves out of stories, but it still shocks me that a news organization would argue in a public courtroom, sincerely, and with a straight face, that they should be allowed to lie.

I’m naive. I’ll admit it. I’m one of those idealistic fools who think that the media has a sacred trust to inform, educate and elucidate the public; that the media is the “watchdog” which keeps the government and corporate world in line by keeping us informed about what they are up to.

I’ve become more cynical over the years, watching the media twist the news to make the story more exciting, or outrageous. I’ve been irritated and angered when pre-packaged press releases by corporations have been presented as news. I’ve been irked by the lack of in-depth analysis, and by the unquestioning approach to government actions.

But this is ri-god-damned-diculous!

I don’t know how much I’d trust a news article that spells Rupert Murdoch’s name wrong.

I’m more scared of a world where the media is forced to parrot “truth” as determined by the government than one where the media can lie. Priorities, man.

If this is true, why isn’t it on any of the major news outlets? I only see it on tiny websites with obvious slants.

Surely CNN and MSNBC would jump on the chance to paint Fox as a disreputable network.

Here is the Court of Appeals ruling, which basically states that the reporters cannot be considered “whistleblowers” because no laws were broken.

This is the complaint and answer given by the news station.

This is a new site which has a link to the broadcast of Fox news’ reaction to the decision.

  • Penthouse * magazine ran an article on it in March of '99. (The text of the article can be found here.

This is the reporters’ website, with links to media articles about the suit, including ones from the * New York Times * and * MSNBC *. Perhaps other media outlets are not eager to jump on the story, ** Cessandra ** because they’re guilty of the same thing, and it could turn into an “expose” war, and nobody wants that.

There are quite a few good books on this subject, one of which * Toxic Sludge is Good For You! * talks about the PR-stories-as-news phenomenon, and how corporations virtually control the media. You might want to check it out. If nothing else, it’s an entertaining read.

You know, Fred, it doesn’t really make much of a difference whether the media is “forced” to go along, or does it willingly. The end result is the same. I have heard accusations that sponsors who threaten to pull their ads have enormous input over what makes it to the air and what does not. One might call this coersion. The media’s need to make a profit means that the truth is often sacrificed to make a sponsor happy.

Whose truth, anyway?

Good job. Now read it.

In no way does the court find, as the initial article you linked to claimed, that “First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves” or even that “The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdock (sic), argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.”

What the court found is that the proper forum to raise an intentional distortion claim is during the station’s license renewal process, and that the the reporters did not have standing under Florida’s narrowly drawn private-party whistleblower statue.

That’s it.

Hope that helps.

Not sure if it’s a function of changing values, or not, Lissa.

It is deeply disturbing that the value placed on honesty seems to be at an all time low. Advertisers, lawyers, the President, the media, and too many in between find it perfectly acceptable to deliver steaming heaps of dung with a straight face.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about this case, but it seems what happened was she had a report that told how evil this bovine growth hormone was (according to all these left-leaning nut-case groups, anyway), and got in trouble because that was the slant she wanted to give it.

Anyway, here’s what the FDA has to say about it:

I’m sorry, I should have been clearer. The attorney for Fox argued that the First Amendment protected them in this case, and that since the FCC had no concrete rules for dealing with this situation, so the reporters were not whistleblowers. The court ruled it agreed with the television station that “intentional falsification of the news . . . does not qualify as the [breaking of a] law, rule or regulation” and that it was a matter for the FCC. During the trial, Ralph Nader basically argued that since the FCC isn’t enforcing the “rules” in any meaningful way, it pretty much allows news programs free reign.

This article about the case states (in paragraph 21-- cut & paste is not working) that Fox’s lawyer argued in the appeal that “technically there is no law, rule or regulation against deliberate news distorition by a television station licensed to use the airwaves.”

But I still see what the gist of the initial article said. There is no law against lying, so thus, in a way, lying is legal. (I can see irony in my complaining about media distorition when the title of the original article was inflammatory in of itself.) However, it disturbs me that other than the FCC, there is no redress for claims of lying or distortion, and if Nader is correct, they’ve made no efforts to persue any cases of distorition. If the FCC isn’t going to do anything about it, then there’s no one to turn to.

Well, libel and slander laws still apply, don’t they? And, assuming the distortion isn’t libelous or slanderous, the redress would be for you to publicize cases of distortion. But, if you wanted more regulation regarding accuracy, who would you give the authority to rule on the truth of a story to?

Yeah, a trust, but apparently not a legal obligation. Kinda sucks but this is what happens when everybody has all these damn rights!!

The Media have no legal responsibility to tell the truth (Slander and libel cases aside.)

Rather, it is The People’s responsibility to not tolerate lies in media, and not to trust media which have not proven themselves worthy.