It was bad enough when, back in 2003, Fox News won a lawsuit against two whistleblowing reporters who accused the network of deliberately and knowingly lying.
Two Fox reporters were working on a story about the significant health risks of milk coming from cows treated with bovine growth hormone (BGH). The station was initially excited about the story, but then Monsanto found out about it. When the reporters refused to insert statements from Monsanto into the story that they knew were lies, they were fired. They sued, and were initially successful.
But Fox appealed the case, and won using a bizarre defense. They claimed that the two reporters were not entitled to protection under the whitleblower law, because it is not against any law, rule, or regulation to knowingly lie in a news broadcast. So even though Fox acknowledged that they were lying, they claimed that it was their right to lie as much as they want. Fox won. I guess corporate free speech now trumps public interest.
Perhaps emboldened by their ability to twist the law to suit their agenda, Fox News itself is now suing a Senate candidate. Fox and anchor Chris Wallace are suing Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan, because Carnahan used “proprietary” Fox News footage in one of her campaign ads. The suit claims copyright infringement, invasion of privacy (!) and misappropriation of likeness.
But the best part is that Fox is claiming that by using the Fox footage in her campaign ad, Carnahan is compromising their “objectivity”. Seriously.
The footage used by Carnahan is a part of an interview that Wallace did on Fox News in 2006 with Roy Blunt, who is Carnahan’s opponent for the Senate. In the clip, Wallace addresses Blunt:
You just said a moment ago that you have to show that you’re the party of reform but there is some question whether you are the man to do that. In 2002, you tried to insert language into the Homeland Security Act to help Phillip Morris tobacco [company] while you were dating that company’s lobbyist. And your campaign committee’s paid $485,000 to a firm linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Are you the one to clean up the house?
What’s completely hypocritical about this case is that it is very common for political ads to include video clips taken from news channels. It is generally considered “fair use”. And in fact, political shows on Fox do that all the time.
For now, Carnahan cannot show the ad, and Fox News sent a takedown notice to YouTube, who removed the video. But you can see it here.
Since Fox is suing a Democratic politician for doing something that they do all the time, it doesn’t seem like they have much of a chance of winning the suit, so perhaps this is just a SLAPP. Not only that, but News Corp (the parent organization of Fox News) has donated more than $10,000 to Blunt’s campaign.
Objectivity compromised, indeed.