Florida appeals court rules that media can legally lie
In a judgement evocatively and incredibly titled “Court Ruled That Media Can Legally Lie,” Fox News has beaten a plaintiff suing them for demanding that they insert distortive information provided by the Monsanto Corporation in a story the plaintiff wrote about the Monsanto Corporation. The plaintiff reported Fox's demand to the FCC and was fired by Fox in 1997, but won a wrongful termination suit in a Florida court in 2000.
Incredibly enough, the appeals court overturned the verdict, but even more incredibly, this happened in 2003. This didn't make news at the time, and this is disturbing. Why didn't it make news? Maybe the clue lies in the fact that no fewer than five major media companies—Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc.—filed friend of the court briefs in favor of Fox's position. This seems to imply that other major media outlets, though they didn't directly involve themselves in this case, want to protect their right to lie to the public. In the true spirit of capitalism, they apparently wish to reserve the right to make a crappy product and have the market decide what the best product is. But in the true spirit of good government, we need to legislate either standards or labels, letting consumers (or, more to the point, citizens,) make an informed choice in the face of hucksters. Just as I want to know that the food I buy isn't poisonous without having to find out the hard way, I also want to be sure about my media. Lies can be legal, I agree, but they should also be labeled, or else that's libel.
Fox is big on their "fair and balanced" idea. They lead the public to think that that means a balance between the two extremes of the political spectrum. We've always known that that's not accurate at all. Apparently Fox really means a balance between lies and facts, both presented to you for you to make up your mind. Tainted meat, tainted news: what's the difference?
Click here for the whole story, thoroughly laid out for you. I can't say I'm surprised, but that doesn't make me any less appalled.