With the prevalence of fake news the public seems less interested in truth than in reports that support what they would prefer to believe.

News Lies and Distortions

Based on email

" Fox News argued in the case that under the First Amendment they have the right to lie and deliberately distort news reports."

"I recently had my car worked on at this place where they had Fox News on in the waiting room.

...After listening for about an hour (I didn't have a choice) it's easy to see why so many people believe crazy, untrue things and why there is such a political divide in this country.

Why can't something be done....?"

>>Short answer: because it's legal for a news organization to knowingly lie and distort the truth.

FOX News was taken to court over just such an issue.

It was a whistle-blowing case and, interestingly, Fox lawyers won, not by trying to prove the truth of the documentary at the center of the case, but by maintaining that they have a legal right to broadcast things that are untrue.

In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the Fox News assertion that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying broadcast news in the United States.

This is both a fascinating and disturbing case.

Two award-winning reporters had sued Fox for firing them after they repeatedly refused to water down the hazards of Monsanto's genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST) for which there was ample professional documentation from multiple countries. See footnotes for more information.

>>FOX News is very popular and, as you point out, this is why so many people believe things that have been proven false. And this is undoubtedly why Fox News listeners tend to hold false beliefs about some key issues of the day.**

But, the reporters' right not to damage their professional reputations by being forced by an employer (pressured by  multi-billion dollar corporations) to write false stories seems like another issue. The Florida court did not support the reporters' right.


* A 10-minute documentary piece featuring the two principles in the case and what ensued can be found on YouTube:

In case that link doesn't work, it's at

This is distressing for any TV news professional or potential news professional to see but definitely worth viewing.

Also see He Who Has the Most Money Makes the Rules,

In case you want to look it up the case it's New World Communications of Tampa, Inc. d.b.a WTVT-TV (appellant) v. Jane Akre (appellee) case No. 2D01-529 of the District Court of Appeal of Florida, 2nd District.

**A University of Maryland study reported in late 2010 that the audience for Fox News was far less accurately informed about world and national events than the audiences of other news sources, especially public broadcasting.

The study found that there was a direct relationship between the amount of time spent watching Fox News and holding to false information on key issues of the day. 

No partisan divide was found. People who watched Fox, and voted Democratic were just as likely to be incorrect on major issues as the Fox viewers who voted Republican. 

A 2012 study reported at and noted in The Week news magazine (July 2012) found that 63% of Republicans (the primary listeners and viewers of Fox News) believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Of those, 64% believed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

Although numerous sources have clearly shown both beliefs to be false, many people still have a personal and political need to believe them.

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