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Summoning an icon

5/07/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Broadcast news icon Walter Cronkite was called as an expert by two broadcast journalists suing FOX O & O WTVT(TV) Tampa, claiming they lost their jobs for refusing to slant stories regarding artificial hormones in milk.

FOX denies the charges, and says that the departures of married plaintiffs Steve Wilson and Jane Akre is strictly a personnel issue.

Cronkite testified on the dangers to journalism of turning over the pre-broadcast process to lawyers, and not on the specifics of this case. Because Cronkite will be unavailable at the trial, the plaintiffs want to present his taped testimony to a jury after the trial begins in June; although the plaintiffs believe FOX lawyers will try to keep the testimony out by attacking Cronkite's expertise in broadcast law.

The CBS legend is one of two well-known experts expected to be called by Akre and Wilson; consumer advocate Ralph Nader is the other. Akre and Wilson were given an award for "civic courage" by a trust operated by Nader's family.

 

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