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Fox News didn't contend it had no legal obligation to be truthful, nor did a court uphold that. The lawsuit cited in the post involved two reporters who sued a Fox affiliate over breach of contract and retaliatory firing in 1998.
The reporters said the Fox affiliate made revisions to a story that distorted the truth. Although the station denied such allegations, it did argue that the First Amendment barred judicial review of editorial discretion.
An appeals court sided with the Fox affiliate, but it did not address the station's First Amendment argument.
A viral post recycled an old claim that Fox News Channel is officially registered as an entertainment outlet — not an authentic news organization. To build the case, the post said Fox even sought the legal right to tell lies.
"Fox is not a news organization. It is GOP propaganda in a format that appears to be a TV news channel," an Aug. 21 Facebook post read. The image goes on to claim that Fox won a legal appeal "that declared it had no legal obligation to be truthful in its reporting."
Then it asked: "What reputable news organization would litigate for its right to tell lies?"
This claim about Fox News is wrong, and it was flagged as part of Facebook's efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
PolitiFact fact-checked a similar statement in 2014. We found that the lawsuit did not involve Fox News Channel; it centered on a local TV station in Tampa, Florida, owned and operated by a subsidiary of the Fox Corp.
Even so, the Fox-owned affiliate didn't contend it had no legal obligation to be truthful, nor did a court uphold that.
At issue is a lawsuit involving two married reporters who sued their former employer, WTVT, Channel 13, for breach of contract and retaliatory firing in 1998.
Two years prior, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre — the reporting duo — began examining the use of a synthetic growth hormone in Florida dairy cattle. The reporters could not come to an agreement with WTVT over edits to the story.
WTVT aired a revised version of their report. According to Akre, the station's move distorted the truth — which, she claimed, violated a provision by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The station denied that characterization.
Akre further alleged that WTVT fired her and Wilson for threatening to notify the FCC, violating the agency's whistleblower's statute. Meanwhile, the station said it terminated the reporters for refusing to make revisions to the story.
In 2000, a Tampa jury ruled in Akre’s favor. WTVT appealed the case. In court, the station argued FCC's news distortion policy is not a codified law; it also said the First Amendment bars the judicial review of editorial discretion.
An appeals court agreed that the news distortion policy did not qualify as a protected rule under the whistleblower's statute. The ruling did not address the station's First Amendment argument.
In 2014, Akre told PolitiFact that she didn't remember WTVT admitting to lying and defending it as a legal right.
A Facebook post said Fox News sought the legal "right to tell lies."
The post cited a lawsuit from 1998. PolitiFact found that the case did not involve Fox News Channel; it centered on a local TV station owned and operated by a subsidiary of Fox Corp.
The lawsuit involved two reporters who sued a Fox-owned affiliate over breach of contract and retaliatory firing. The station didn't contend it had no legal obligation to be truthful, nor did a court uphold that.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, Aug. 21, 2022
PolitiFact, Facebook post claims Fox 'admits they lie,' have right to 'distort news,' Sept. 10, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, Reporter wins lawsuit over firing, Aug. 19, 2000
Federal Communications Commission, Broadcast Programming: Law and Policy on Specific Kinds of Programming, July 2008
Federal Communications Commission, Whistleblower Protections under the Recovery Act, 2009
FindLaw, New World Communications of Tampa Inc. v. Akre, Feb. 14, 2003
Email interview with Caley Cronin, Fox News spokesperson, Aug. 31, 2022
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