Medical Device Messenger and Fox Failure to Disclose

Jane Akre
October 2, 2012

Fox & Friends, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012 ~ Respect your television audience. In terms of full disclosure that would require a reporter to disclose the background of an interview subject, especially if that person is espousing a specific point of view.

Journalistic ethics didn’t stop Fox & Friends from practicing bad journalism. Introducing former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) on Fox & Friends Monday, October 1, he went on the show to rail against the 2.3 percent medical device tax, but neither Fox nor Bayh disclosed that Bayh is now a corporate attorney for a firm that represents several medical device companies, reports Media Matters.

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (here) says — "Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability."

But Bayh told Fox viewers that the tax will hurt innovation and cut jobs in the industry. Even the graphics shown accompanying Bayh’s appearance quoted Bayh as the source, listing him as a “Former Senator” and not a current legal rep for the industry.

In January, Bayh began working for the Washington, D.C. law firm of McGuireWoods LLP as a partner, reports Media Matters, a nonprofit group that watches disinformation coming from all major media.

McGuireWoods plans on hosting the “4th Annual Medical Device and Life Sciences Conferences” dedicated to “addressing key legal and business matters focusing on innovation, investing and regulatory issues in the medical device sector.” Bayh will give the opening speech.

The Wall Street Journal, now owned by News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s company that also owns Fox News, has also failed to disclose the conflict except in an anti-device editorial that ran last week.

Bloomberg wrote in June editorial that “just about everything the medical-device industry says about the tax is either untrue or exaggerated.”

The medical device tax goes into effect January 1, Bayh said it would really represent a 10-15 percent tax on profits combined with a 35% corporate and state corporate taxes, some companies would end up paying a 50 percent tax rate in most jurisdictions.

An assessment of the device tax in McClatchy (here) reports the excise tax can be deducted from the company’s income taxes so it may represent more like a 1.4 percent burden rather than 2.3 percent. #

Disclosure - (Writer, Akre once sued Fox and News Corp for News Distortion. She won the case before a jury of six. The award was later overturned on appeal).

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