Sunday, August 22, 2004

Got Pus? 

Milk drinkers be warned: Suburban Guerrilla has the frankly unappetizing story of Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, two reporters who were sacked by a Fox affiliate in Tampa because they refused to suppress the results of their investigation into the health risks associated with rBGH -- Monsanto's genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone:
Forrest could never understand why we insisted on investigating Monsanto's glowing claims about its product. "While some say this, Monsanto says that" was her approach. Just let the viewers sort it out.

She and a lot of lawyers like her cannot understand the difference between a reporter, especially an investigative reporter, and a stenographer. A reporter's obligation is always to explore the claims made by all voices in any story, critics and proponents alike. If a claim doesn't hold water, we have the obligation to show why not.

But none of that mattered to our friends at Fox who like to boast about news that is "fair and balanced," different than all the others. "We report, you decide" is their motto. During one May phone review of the latest script, after we had faxed her more documentation, Forrest finally leveled with us. "You guys just don't get it. It doesn't matter whether the facts are true. This story just isn't worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars to go up against Monsanto."
(Akre and Wilson were involved in a years-long legal battle against Fox. Their story is told in Into the Buzzsaw, an excellent anthology of news stories spiked for political reasons, and in the new documentary The Corporation.)

Excuse us now while we open another bottle of Rochioli West Block Pinot '97. It's more sanitary than milk and has the added benefit of helping us forget what we just read.

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