Many talking points echoed over and over and over again ad nauseum include the word “freedom.” You know you hear it often on Fox News and Glenn Beck about how our “freedoms” are in jeopardy because of the “liberals.”
This is mindless blather trying to scare people. Liberals, Democrats (right, left and center) and Progressives all love “Freedom.” The GOP and Tea Partiers are not the only people who love their “Freedom.” All Americans love their “Freedom” and want to keep it.
Freedom of the Press from Censorship by News Station Sponsors
An important ingredient to keeping our “freedom” is insuring we have an independent press that can report factual investigative reports that provide accurate information to the public. Journalists need to be able to cover issues without fear that their stories will be edited because a news organization’s sponsors might pull their financial support from that news station if it feels a news report might reveal information to the public that could affect its bottom line.
Case in point: In Florida in 1997 there were two journalists, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson who worked for the Tampa, Florida TV Fox News station affiliate as investigative journalists. They did an in-depth story about the dangers of Posilac, which at that time was a product solely produced by the Monsanto Corporation. Posilac is the brand name for rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) used to artificially make cows produce milk faster than normal.
THE CORPORATION [17/23] Unsettling Accounts
The story of Fox News Reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson and how Monsanto Influenced the Editing of an Investigative News Report about its Bovine Growth Hormone product called Posilac
Florida Fox Reporters Akre and Wilson discovered that Monsanto had possibly deleted or failed to report important negative findings from their FDA-related clinical trial studies of how Posilac affected rats in a short 90-day test for human toxicity. Why did the FDA rapidly approve Monsanto’s rBGH, Posilac? Did they overlook or deliberately ignore key health safety information before rubber stamping approval of the bovine growth hormone Posilac for widespread use in cows, thus affecting milk and all milk-related products for human consumption?
The shocking truth about Monsanto’s Posilac is that according to food researcher and author Robert Cohen, the FDA allowed Monsanto in 1989 to put milk from test herds injected with Posilac into the food supply. This was before Posilac was formally approved by the FDA in November 1993.
Also, research from Monsanto’s own studies showed that the animals that consumed Posilac had problems with their lymphatic system.
When the reporters tried to air their comprehensive factual and balanced report, Fox News received threatening faxes from the lawyers of Monsanto that claimed there would be “dire consequences for Fox News” if the story aired in Florida.
The Faxes were addressed to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes from Monsanto’s lawyers. Fox has numerous affiliate stations across the U.S. and Monsanto was a major sponsor. Monsanto promoted products like the pesticide Round-up and artificial sweetener Nutrasweet that contains the controversial chemical “aspartame.” A lot of money was at stake if Monsanto left Fox.
The Fox News Station Manager, “Dave”, made Akre and Wilson rewrite their Posilac story at least 83 times in order to avoid displeasure from Monsanto. The reporters had to sanitize or remove words like “cancer” and other terms that might make the public question the safety of Posilac.
According to Monsanto’s promotional video to farmers that might buy Posilac, a spokesperson said in the video:
“Posilac is the single most tested new product in history, and is now available to you specifically so you can increase your profit potential.”
THE REAL STORY: The above statement is highly exaggerated since Monsanto only did a 90-day clinical trial on 30 rats for health safety concerns from Posilac. However, according to Dr. William von Meyer, Research Scientist:
“A human drug requires two years of carcinogenic testing and extensive birth defect testing. BGH was tested for 90 days on 30 rats at any dose before it was approved.”
CeaseSPIN.org reporter Mike Gaddy reported on Feb. 28, 2003:
Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.
By Mike Gaddy. Published Feb. 28, 2003
On February 14, 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.
On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to report the station’s pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was “a false, distorted, or slanted” story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows.
According to the Florida Appeals Court judge’s ruling, Jane Akre’s whistleblower case was overturned and her $425,000 reward returned because the judge claimed there was nothing in Florida law that required a news station to report truthful news. Therefore, Jane Akre lost her whistleblower status because, Orwellian as it might sound, Fox News did not have to legally report the truth!
Monsanto played its hand at bullying Fox into not running the original Posilac story. They flexed their financial muscle to show Fox who was really in charge. The Monsanto lawyers basically controlled what was reported and not reported about the safety or harm posed to the public and animals injected with the artificial bovine growth hormone, Posilac.
Monsanto did not want the public thinking anything could be wrong with milk that contained Posilac. That might cut into their profits.
Fox News Florida Affiliate Station Manager “Dave” said to reporter Steve Wilson:
“We just paid $3 billion dollars for these television stations. We’ll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!”
“If you refuse to present this story the way we think it should be presented, you’ll be fired for insubordination.”
This website, CeaseSPIN.org provides more details about the unbelievable saga of how Fox News legally can misinform the public.
In 2008 Monsanto decided however after this lawsuit to unload their Posilac (also called bovine somat0tropin or rBST or rBGH) business to Elanco Animal Health, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company. Bovine growth hormone is banned in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe due to health safety concerns. However, it is still FDA-approved in the United States. Why?
Why PBS and NPR are Essential for Freedom of the Press and Democracy
There are not many places where Americans can get real news based on what are called facts instead of spin or watered down information. One place that many Americans turn to is PBS and NPR. However, even that seems to be too much for many conservatives. They think the U.S. government shouldn’t help promote a press free from influence by corporations. That’s why they are always trying to find one excuse or another to get rid of these pesky public news organizations.
However, based on the fact that for-profit news organizations do not have to report the truth, at least NPR and PBS have less pressure from corporate sponsors to report lies. That’s why in order to protect American’s right to know the truth about what is going on in the U.S. and the world, we need PBS and NPR. What news do you trust?
A reporter at PBS or NPR might decide to do an investigative report about Monsanto’s products and they would not be threatened by the Monsanto lawyers in the same way that Fox News was in Florida. However, unfortunately the people threatening PBS and NPR are Congresspeople who receive lots of money from corporations like Monsanto. That’s why voters must protect NPR and PBS from those that wish to defund these organizations. Remember that public broadcasting stations equal freedom of untainted information. That’s the kind of Freedom that will protect our Democracy.