EA Calls Out Fox News Over Mass Effect Smear

January 24, 2008 -
Jeff Brown (left), VP of Communications for Electronic Arts, has requested that Fox News correct Monday's disgraceful trashing of Mass Effect.

As reported by Kotaku, Brown sent a letter to Teri Van Horn, producer of Fox News' Live Desk program on which the Mass Effect hatchet job was orchestrated. From Brown's letter:
As the parent company of BioWare... EA would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character interactions in Mass Effect.

Your headline above the televised story read: "New videogame shows full digital nudity and sex." Fact: Mass Effect does not include explicit or frontal nudity. Love scenes in non-interactive sequences include side and profile shots - a vantage frequently used in many prime-time television shows...

FNC voice-over reporter says: "You'll see full digital nudity and the ability for players to engage in graphic sex." Fact: Sex scenes in Mass Effect are not graphic. These scenes are very similar to sex sequences frequently seen on network television in prime time.

FNC reporter says: "Critics say Mass Effect is being marketed to kids and teenagers." Fact: That is flat out false...

Brown also named several of Fox's own programs for displaying a level of sexuality far beyond Mass Effect's single, rather tasteful love scene:
Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC? Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect than to those prime time shows?


For all those that want EA to sue: First of all, a lawsuit will be fought to the bitter end and may look to some on the outside that the big, bad game industry is trying to peddle porn to minors and silencing its critics. Getting a public apology from Fox more or less accomplishes what EA wants, but without the prolonged legal battle and bad PR.
Also, demonstrating that the statements were made maliciously, that they are unreasonable beliefs, and that they do actual harm to EA are all difficult points to prove. It'd be a tough battle, and in the US close calls regarding the legality of statements always are decided in favor of those making the statement. The case exists, but it's not easy.
(Of course, should Fox refuse to apologize when offered refuting evidence, the case might become easier. Who knows...)


A line from this which wasn't quoted was that it's not a legal threat. I rather wish it were, simply because Fox makes a habit of yellow journalism. This goes beyond Mass Effect, and I really want Fox to become afraid of the consequences of reporting falsehoods as fact.

Finally someone is standing up to Fox news and it's errors :).

I agree with Benji. Truth is that a good PR strategy looks better to the public then corporate lawsuits.

@ AM
"This is not a legal threat" is corporate speak for "This is not a legal threat yet."

About time someone authoritative stood up against this stupidity. Good on you EA!

I don't know if American TV has ethical standards (my country does), but if it does, there's an obligation from Fox News to correct the story, even if it just a 10 second prepared statement.

Glad to see the gaming industry stand up for itself. About time if you ask me they have the power since they pull in more annaul revenue than movies. Fox might ignore this but I doubt it EA is probably big enough to make some changes in how video games are viewed. My guess is Fox will apologize to EA privately and we will hear nothing else about it.

@ 300baud

Exactly what I was thinking. Who owns Fox? What sister companies have links to video games?

I'm glad that EA is lending its weight to what is hopefully a wider campaign to show fox and Cooper Lawrence the error of their ways in recklessly making arbitrary statements about mass effect. I'm also glad that they did it in a civilized manner, as I hope that anyone else who writes in will do (although I do find a particular ironic sense of satisfaction in the spamming of Lawrences book reviews on amazon). And I do realize that with such slander being the issue at hand, it is difficult to remain civil (I first started to watch the clip at work (as a college student, I have one of the easiest jobs in the world), and I had to turn it off early when she said, "who's playing video games? adolescent males, not their dads", so that I would not smash things). Anyway, civilized=good.

wow everyone just ignores gamerdad? no cool. HI GAMERDAD! how are you feeling?

Back to business, Even though I work for a competing game company I'm glad EA took a step in the right direction and if they don't get the response they want i hope they press further.

I love that she ended up getting spammed with 1 star reviews on Amazon for all her books. I hope it actually impacts online sales (though I know I personally rarely even look at star ratings...I know what I'm buying before I go to the site, but hey, fingers crossed!).

@ GamerDad

Hi Andrew! Gosh, we really need you over in the UK right now.

In case anybody missed Nightwing's comment about Faux News winning the right to lie, here's the story in full:


Somehow I can't imagine Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes giving a damn about this. However, I still salute EA.

"Back to business, Even though I work for a competing game company I’m glad EA took a step in the right direction and if they don’t get the response they want i hope they press further"

Agreed. While I work for an EA competator as well, it brought me and my office great joy to see them stand up to slander like this. It is about time that someone decided not to lay back and take it as the "new medium" and fight back for our rights not only as gamers, but as game developers, reviewers, and the industry in general. I know that if I had met one of these Fox people on the street, and they called me a "pornography peddler" that would be grounds for a solid punch in the mouth.

As well written as this piece is I can is it either being.....

A) Ignored and never read

B) Talked about for five seconds before opening up with Cooper again talking about how men are evil and video games enforces their male ideals

C) Given to Fox's resident Troll Bill O'Riley who will do nothing but insult EA and Gamers in general.

Fox Noise isn't fair and balanced like they say. Here a few videos proving my point:
Employees expose Fox News Distortions
Fox News Admits Bias:
Rupert Murdoch of Fox News Admits Manipulating the News for Agenda:
This is why I stick to either network news, CNN, or MSNBC. Fox News is garbage, plain and simple.

Fox trying to cash in on middle-aged, middle-class folks' ignorance instead of educating them. Can we blame them for being unethical?

If the letter didn't threaten to sue, it should have.

As much as I dislike EA for it's practices, I applaud it for standing up to the spinsters in the news rooms.


I gotta agree with you on the points you made, but I'm hopeful that this is a step in the right direction. Companies need to stand behind their games just as EA is doing here and the ESRB has gotta start helping out with more then just spouting information vids about the rating system. The systems been around for how many years? It works already, we get the idea! Start standing by your ratings, game companies put you in charge to be a self regulating body, either start by helping the fight with morons like Fox, or we might just see fit to remove you...

it's about time someone corrected the mainstream media when they mess up in a way that will reach more people.

I think we're seeing that Bioware's acquisition by EA has, at least in the short run, produce a happy result. Turns out that Fox News can't bully so well when it runs up on a giant media conglomerate that's nearly as huge as it is.

I think EA just made up for about a decade of bad moves.

Wow, I have respect for EA again!

I have to say, EA has earned a good bit of respect from me now. More studios need to take the media to task when they outright lie.

I'm glad EA is going after these lying bastards.

I am simply stunned that, by some cruel cosmic trick of the universe, I am pulling for EA.

Kudos to the CEO of EA!

What makes me mad is the fact that Fox News will probably completely ignore this.

EA's got the bucks to throw down against Fox, now let's see if they've got the balls.

Knowing media types, Fox's likely response will be to hem, haw, and hope people get bored until the threat goes away.

Fantastic. Not a big fan of EA, but it would do the industry wonders for these big corporates to stand up to the lies and deceit being spread. I hope they go all the way with this and issue a lawsuit should Fox refuse to air any apology or correction.


Actually, ignoring it might not be a bad thing. The comments that they're making are obviously false and could be considered defamatory and/or slanderous. If they don't offer a retraction, then EA might sue them. That would be a real shot in the arm for the VG industry if they sued for slander and WON.

Jeff Brown's a good man.

@ MacBoy

Sadly, they will probably try to "spin" it (I still call BS on that whole "no spin" crap they talk about..they must keep the whole building rotating so they don't notice how bad it is) and try to make it look like either we are fighting to keep porn in kids hands, or as a bunch of kids throwing a fit. They will NEVER give an apology or even admit that they lied. Sad but probably true.

EA vs. FOX. Saucy..


You cheeky bugger. You had a few people scared for you.

If you haven't see it yet, many gamers are voicing their outrage in the review section of her book on amazon.


It's only fair. She "reviews" a game without ever playing it (or doing any form of research on it), and so we "review" her book without reading it.

I suppose there is at least one benefit to being owned my a mega corp like EA. Nice to see some "legal" support for creativity for a change. The irony is I'm sure many of us have said the same thing, some probably even more eloquently, but it's not the message it's the messenger.

I haven't posted anything on Cooper's books on Amazon and I don't intend to. If I were a leader in the gaming community I'd probably say somethign publically about making a good example and how it's not the best idea.

But I'm not a leader, and just another of the rank and file... and I find those "reviews" hilarious.

@anon :

I've already said it, but I'll repeat it again : it's not fair. It's "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", and the people who do it are in no way better than her. She acted stupidly ? Of course. But does it give us the right to be as stupid as her ? Wouldn't it be smarter to email her directly and point her mistakes in a civil way ?

Worse, they make gamers look like a bunch of vengeful, angry, immature ayatollahs. Plus, put yourself in the shoes of the non-gamers who never heard about this : they will only see angry off-topic reactions without understanding why there is such anger. And they'll consider Cooper Lawrence as a "victim of a gamers' harrassment campaign".

Talking about Fox News, has anyone read previous coverage of "Mass Effect" ? It makes me wonder if they read their own reviews :

More graphic in the sex scenes than Family Guy? Not even close. No show on TV has more sexual references than Family Guy. None.

Papa Midnight

I haven't posted to her books either because I have chosen not to read such bigoted ignorance and what she has espoused. And to post, even saying that I was commenting on her books even though I hadn't read them as a form of retaliation would seem a little hypocritical.

I did post a comment to the Boardwalk Ambush book mentioned in a prior artcile, but that book I borrowed from a friend and read, so I felt justified in commenting on that... book (spoken in slathery disgust). At any rate, neither Harrison nor Lawrence will be collecting royalties from me.

NW2K Software
PS. OT: Great to see you back in action GamerDad! :)
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Faux, you just got SERVED!

its ON!

well I didn't post any reviews (it makes our community/culture look rather dumb) but I gotta say some of the stuff that people pointed out was hilarious!

that Cooper woman can shut it, she is just another sensationalist pro-woman turd, she'll be dead soon anyway, soon all of these people will be dead and we will take their place when we are their age (god forbid I look like such a jerk when I am pushing 40!)

I know gamers of ages 9 through 99, it is amazing to think that people still classify games as a child's entertainment, amazing and upsetting

good luck EA (man I feel dirty now!) but yeah, turn this into a proper lawsuit, they may have the so called "right to lie" but they don't have the right to attempt the restriction/sabotage of sales of any medium of entertainment, and on that grounds they sure as hell have a case!

Someone ping me when there is an actual response to this letter by Fox News. Given their record thus far I don't expect anything intelligent out of them.

Oh, and I just started playing Mass Effect myself. It is one thick piece of "Space Opera" (and I mean that in a loving way). I would expect any "sex crazed teenage boy" to have fallen asleep hours before the sex scene occurs.

As to the game having negative female stereotypes, I seriously wounder what game this woman was thinking of. Thus far all the female characters I have run into are strong, intelligent and skilled in their professions. The female human who is in my party has earned my respect for single handedly comforting a man who's wife had died in the line of service. If anything I would accuse this game of bening too positive in it's depictions of women thus far! Come on, we can be slime balls too!

"As video games continue to take audiences from television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment." It's nice to see someone else with the same prespective on this issue.

I don't want to appear to be a broken record on this, but I've been saying this all comes down to marketshare. There is alot of people in old-media who are more than willing to slander new-media. It becomes difficult to be un-biased and disinterested (basic journalistic qualities) when a issue in one way or another effects your own paycheck.

I'll give you an example of that in action. CNN entertainment reporter AJ Hammer was talking about the WGA writers strike when he mentioned that Warner Brothers (part of Time Warner, parent company of CNN) was going to lay off a few thousand people. He said on air how he was upset about the whole situation. Also, I once heard a conversation between FOX News and FOX Business news commentator Neil Cavuto talking with Murdoch (shortly after News Corp finally aquired The Wall Street Journal) about how Cavuto was upset with his own daughter beacause she only reads news online and never reads any newspapers. They talked about that for a couple of minutes.

My point; when a large corparation (like Time Warner or News Corp) has any kind of issue marketshare-wise, it effects the paycheck of the guy at the very top to the janitor that cleans up after said guy at the top. Marketshare is one of the main factors in why old-media has been going on a assult on new-media as of late.

While spamming the reviews for Cooper Lawrence's book is immature, it's worth noting that many reviewers who don't have an axe to grind because of her gamer baiting also don't seem to like the book. Reviews rated "helpful" have been universally negative and given her one or two stars, and practically nobody has given her a positive rating. I don't think Cooper Lawrence is in any danger of becoming too popular with the general public.

Incidentally, the tags are kind of hilarious albeit also very appropriate: ignorant, hypocrite, bigot, hack, garbage...

On another note, it's been suggested that EA should go to one of the competitor networks in order to get a story aired about Fox's false statements. The problem is this will only allow Fox to play the "we're being persecuted by the liberal media" card again, and Fox viewers generally aren't going to be curious or discerning enough to figure out the truth. And if CNN or MSNBC wanted to do a story on Fox's journalistic lapses, they'd have thousands of better examples to pick from.

While I like this move, I have to mention that EA's motive aren't likely altruistic - they realize that such bad press can (nd will) hurt sales. However, one can easily argue that this is unfairly going to impact sales, because in this case, EA has done no wrong.

Also, to those who want EA to sue: No. This country is already litigous enough. EA has all the clout it needs - advertising dollars. It can (publically, but not with an official announcement), pull all ads from Fox and Fox affliates. As much as I hate them, EA's Madden, etc. ad spots probably fetch a pretty penny. See, no need to sue.

No lawsuits over a few minutes of hack television. However, threaten advertising dollars? Heck, yes, that happens more frequently.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

I too am a bit disappointed with the "This is not a legal threat," line. Kind of takes the teeth out of the whole argument. Considering you've got people like JT suing game companies left and right for any real or imagined transgression, it's high time the game companies responded in kind. I've always agreed with Yuki on that.

By saying that, it takes the pressure off Fox to issue an apology. So don't hold your breath expecting one. Why should they if they know there'll be no consequence? Even if there's no chance of it ever going to court, it would show that EA would be willing to fight if it came down to it. In effect it's like saying, "Please don't say any more mean things about our games Mr. Big News Corporation."

They didn't even have to threaten to sue. They could have just left that line out of the letter and left it ambiguous. It still would have made them think twice.

I do hope, though, that if Bioware themselves and more companies speak out, eventually the pressure will get to Fox and they'll issue a retraction just as we were able to do it to Kevin McCullough on a smaller scale. EA's rebuttal was a good start, even if they wimped-out at the last minute by not threatening to back up their actions.

I agree with NW2K. Fox should be sued for defamation. There is no legal right to libel or slander someone or something.


They are all full of BS. I thinkly, largly due to Fox being unabashed about it and being rewarded with ratings, but none should be viewed favorably. If it's something I'm interested in, I have to go with a wide range of reports to get any idea of the real story.

If you take a single story, and really compare several news sources, you'll notice distinct differences in each of them. Each network tends edit things to fit their angle, each trying to make the news seem more interesting for whatever target demographic they are looking for.

Whenever a pundit is allowed to do a reporters job, just assume from the get go that it is utter crap. Network doesn't matter there.

Black Manta and other Sue-friendly folks,

This is why Yuki and yourself aren't Veeps of Communication of large companies. What do you thnk your shareholders would do if you threaten to sue Fox News over a few minute segment? Welcome to having your shares bought out from under you.

Come on, Jeff Brown handled this with class, tact, and enough info to set the record straight without getting the Fox Legal heavy hitters on his ass.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

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