ECA’s Hal Halpin Calls on Fox News to Retract Mass Effect Story

Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), has weighed in on the Mass Effect episode, calling on Fox News to correct its smear of the popular Xbox 360 game.

In a letter issued this afternoon to Fox News’ Teri Van Horn, producer of last Monday’s offensive Live Desk segment, Halpin wrote:

On behalf of the [ECA], the national non-profit organization representing American video game consumers, I urge you to correct and repudiate the misstatements leveled by Fox News’ Live Desk regarding the story and character interactions in Mass Effect.

Your show’s reporting was irresponsible and incorrect.  Your own “expert” Cooper Lawrence has subsequently disclaimed her misstatements… In the future, we ask that you book real gamer and industry experts on your show…

ECA’s members are disturbed by your news organization’s apparent disregard of the truth in this instance.  We represent a diverse group that cuts across all ages, with the weightiest portion in the coveted 18 – 45 age group, and with women accounting for 38% of gamers. Over the past week, our members have mobilized to speak out and set the record straight on Mass Effect, and we ask the same of you.

Full Disclosure Dept: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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  1. 0
    Bungle says:

    Considering Fox’s sordid way of researching its news, perhaps this will be the time where gamers unite and blow them out the water. With heavy weights like EA etc getting involved..maybe we have a chance at forcing FOX to change its ways??? Or perhaps piggies will grow wings. This is going to be interesting to follow whichever why it flys.

  2. 0
    Mike says:

    What? Are you trying to say that Fox News is not “fair and balanced”?
    Are you trying to insinuate that the “news” section of the ENTERTAINMENT division of a media company reported something that they did not bother to check out first?

    Wow what next? Let me guess, you gonna tell me that George Bush lied about WMD’s, right?

  3. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Late or not, we need to support the ECA here. If we show that we want more of this, we can get a more timely response if a similar situation pops up again.

    As for the JT story, it might not be posted because it was four emails sent between the kotaku editor and JT, because it was not an official press release, and because he wasn’t outright defending it.

  4. 0
    Ix says:


    Yup, though I’d use completely instead of very in your last line.

    Any news company who has one of their top reporters writing/reporting news they know is wrong, and have been informed so by the person that’s the main subject of their article multiple times, simply can not be trusted and should be publicly vilified if possible.

    The question is how do we inform the people who trust fox of this information?

  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    the ECA is a minor weight in the scheme of tings they must have backing from soemthign in order not to lose rep when they do a press release…think of it like zippy….because zippy rarely watches what he says he is a zippy, a thing to be ignored 😛

  6. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    @ Ixian

    I was thinking of that same article over the whole debacle. Fox News Runs a story about someone. The subject of the story emails them telling them it is false. They say they have a very good source. The guy who they wrote about tells them that their source is wrong and they should take the word of the guy they are talking about. They say they will think about it.

    Very damning if you ask me.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  7. 0
    Ixian says:

    Didn’t have time to read all the comments so this might have been posted but if not it’s a good read.

    It’s about how fox news will knowingly report false information as fact. If they’re willing to do this there’s little chance of them correcting themselves over this. Yeah it sucks, but really it’s just another reason to never watch fox and spread the word about their misdeeds.

  8. 0
    Monkeythumbs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t know whether to be pleased that BioWare’s new publisher EA stepped up to the plate first (how it should be) or be disappointed it took the ECA a whole week to get their act together (they were probably busy, what do I know?). Still… stick it to ’em, Hal.

    Ou se trouve l’ESA?

  9. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I agree, defending was probably the wrong word to use. The image I got from that statement was that Thompson was basically saying ‘All these people are making attacks on Video Games that get disproved easily, it’s making it harder for me to attack Rockstar, because it forms an ethos that censors don’t understand what they are censoring, and I don’t want people figuring that out.’

  10. 0
    Grifter_tm ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t think JT was defending Mass Effect. He said that he thought that “This contrived controversy is absolutely ridiculous.” He’s saying more like “This is ridiculous, there is no controversy here.”

    Of course the whole article is unclear (maybe its JT’s fault) on what exactly he was commenting about, so your guess is as good as mine.

  11. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The reason Thompson is defending Mass Effect is nothing to do with his beliefs and everything to do with how easy it is to form an opinion in Hindsight.

    Never forget that this is the same man who pushed forward Flash-based games written by members of the public as the produce of the Game Industry whilst trying to get laws passed that restricted the sales of Video Games. Jack Thompson isn’t above making completely false statements to back his opinion, he simply knows that to back this horse would be a loser.

  12. 0
    Blase says:

    They did have an excellent expert on the show, specifically to ignore him.

    @ JustChris

    LOL @ the reference :) and fits the character very well.

    ‘Episode 3: A hint of kindness’

  13. 0
    LightWarrior ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Mad_Scientist When Jack was here back in the livejournal-earily domain days people got tired of his ban dodging and begged and prayed for some way to perma ban him. When GP got their own domain it was kinda possable and more easier to keep him banned. Once banned people begged to have him back “Just to see what he’d say.”
    He came back and then people wanted him gone again…lol

  14. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s kind of funny how many people are wondering why Dennis hasn’t covered the latest Jack comment, when so often people are criticising him for covering Jack too much.

    I don’t really know whether the latest Jack Thompson is worthy of a post or not, but Dennis may not find it such. I’m guessing part of the reason why he even bothered with the last Jack Thompson related story was because it also involved the finalized release date for GTAIV, which is by itself newsworthy given the controversy that game is sure to generate from more places than just Thompson.

  15. 0
    MonkeyFace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    yay…fox news takes another…stern talking to from the gaming bigwigs
    Im supprised they havent done a story on the general gaming populace yet
    You know describing us as a bunch of foam at the mouth nutjobs and what not.
    Seriously whats going on? a writers stri..oh yah

    Gamers im putting this task on you come up with a snappy one liner demonizing gamers and then email it to fox with a brief summary on how they could incorporate it into a story.

  16. 0
    The Ninth Doctor says:

    Then again, it probably won’t have much longterm effect, so I can see how it might be deemed not worth the time and effort to cover. We’ll all forgot about the incident come GTA4’s release and the JT insanity sure to follow.

  17. 0
    The Ninth Doctor says:

    Why is Jack Thompson defending Mass Effect?

    1. Attacking it, as we’ve already been witness too, is completely ineffective.

    2. By defending it, he is seperating himself from the percieved idiots who were so easily shut down, making him appear more sane.

    3. A lot less kids are going to get their hands on Mass Effect than GTA. Seriously, less kids are going to beg their ignorant parents for a game who’s most interesting feature is talking.

    I don’t get why its not being covered, since it *seems* that almost his every move is covered, and this latest move seems to be (if only on the surface) a shocking development.

  18. 0
    Fraz says:

    He’s not defending a damn thing. He picks his targets more strategically like that, and simply put it’s because he wants to play the part of ‘whistle blower’ so he doesn’t look like just another ambulance chaser [of course to us we see right through it, but to others, it’s how he gets potential attention].

  19. 0
    William ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ The Ninth Doctor

    I can’t believe it. Jack Thompson, of all people, is actually defending a video game. Hell has officially frozen over.

  20. 0
    JJmug ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @E. Zachary Knight

    yes about every other publisher and developer. It should not matter who published/developed it. It should be a were are not gonna sit down and be beat anymore.

  21. 0
    willysoc3 says:

    I don’t think GP plans on covering the Jack defends Mass Effect story. It really isn’t a story.

    You have to remember that GP and Jack don’t talk to often since Jack was banned. Plus, to be considered real news, it would have to have some more guts to it.

    Jack didn’t actually defend Mass Effect, he just said that at the time he has no problem with it. Probably after seeing the way it played out, he for once decided to keep his mouth shut.

  22. 0
    The Ph03n1x says:

    Didn’t see this already posted, sorry if I missed someone else saying it:

    In the last 2 minutes of The Live Desk today, anchor Martha McCallum showed and paraphrased Cooper Lawrence’s quotes from her NYTimes interview. However, she made no effort to apologize for the segment, instead it appeared to me as if she was putting the blame for the misguided attack squarely on Ms Lawrence’s shoulders. She also parroted the fact that EA, BioWare & Microsoft representatives have been invited to share their viewpoint on the game on her show but have not responded.

  23. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yeah, it came a week later, but I gotta give a standing ovation to Mr. Halpin anyway.

    I don’t think the opposing viewpoint absolutely HAS to be a gaming expert, just an expert who’s actually DONE the research.

    I mean, really, I can better understand a “oops, I didn’t understand something and I misinterpreted some of the info I found in my research” far better than “the only thing I know about the game is that someone told me it had porn in it”.

    Now, where’s Leland Yee or Hilary Clinton? Where’s Senator Burrell? We know where you-know-who is (there’s a Kotaku article about it).

    You know, it just jumped in my mind that the best snippit comment regarding those politicians, organizations, and other individuals is made in the parody of the title of a famous movie:

    Silence Of The Sheep

    NW2K Software

  24. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I don’t think Jack Thompson is bluffing. He’s not as much of a fool as some people think, and he picks his targets with some care most of the time. (I still don’t understand his Sims 2 comments, but he never really followed up on them much.)

    Even a T-rated game like Bully, with its name, setting, and developer, is easy to demonize, easy to portray as horrible. But Mass Effect is just a Sci-Fi RPG with a sex scene less graphic than some that have appeared in a few other games, and it’s from a devoloper who’s name doesn’t inspire bad feelings from the general population. And with people in the industry actually making something of an effort to counteract the misinformation about the game this time, it wouldn’t be wise for Jack Thompson to criticise it too much.

  25. 0
    chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just Chris:

    Not really. Jack just doesn’t want someone else stealing his limelight. He isnt defending anything at all, he just wants headlines to himself.

  26. 0
    Spartan says:

    I for one won’t count NYT in our corner until I see ECA’s efforts being reported in it.

    Regarding Fox blaming Ms. Lawrence they could try but she did not make the graphics for the show and she was not the host either.

    I am also wonder why ESA has not taken a position on this issue as well. Additionally, I would love to see Mr. Gates whip off a quip at a minimum at Fox. If that happened I think it would be “the shot heard around the world” so to speak.

  27. 0
    chadachada(123) ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Whatever happened to those T-shirts that we had a competition about? I still wanna buy the “Contrary to popular opinion” one…

    Oh, and I completely agree with Hal

  28. 0
    Demontestament ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well said Mr. Halpin, though sadly I see Fox News ignoring this since it was ruled they are allowed to lie to their viewers. I would be surprised if they did a retraction on the story or even a follow up since Cooper Lawrence said she was mistaken about Mass Effect.

  29. 0
    broken scope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Please, shut the fuck up. Even an intelligent person who hates windows has to admit that bill gates has done a huge amount of good through charity. Only a stupid fucktard is able to blame every problem in the computer world on bill gates. Please, just shut the fuck up about a man you obviously can’t be bothered to know anything about.

    Back on topic


    So all those videogame laws put themselves through the courts and had themselves over turned.

    Has anyone considered that possibly that EA may have asked the ESA to not jump on this? You know maybe? Or is bashing the ESA without wondering why they might not do something the popular thing to do on gamepolitics?

    As others have said, you have to be very careful when dealing with the news media. You have to word things carefully and not leave openings.
    Its not surprising the ECA has a response sooner than the ESA. The ESA has a large number of members with a lot of money.

    The ECA is a consumer group.

  30. 0
    gs2005 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Fox News is unlikely to apologize-they typically don’t, and I can’t think of an example when they actually did, not that I watch them when I do see television…

  31. 0
    Khabi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Its funny, dealing with fox is a lose / lose relationship. You go on the air and give them the precious segment, that would get lots of views from gamers + the normal crowd, or you don’t and let them say it their way (hell if they’re going to retract their statement.

    My best solution for this? The ECA and EA should make arrangements on a different station to bash Fox’s coverage of Mass Effect. You hit them in both the wallet (viewership watching another channel) and the ego.

    Surely another station would be willing to give them ‘Fair and Balanced’ coverage?

  32. 0
    The Ninth Doctor says:

    Seriously, even everyone’s favorite soon to be disbarred lawyer is defending Mass Effect now (which should be covered, shouldn’t it?), a definate sign that fox needs to retract their statement.

  33. 0
    Zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Its nice that Hal and the ECA is speaking up about this (how about doing so next time JT is lying?).

    However, the question remains as to why the ESA is still silent on the whole thing- its their business and creative merit being dragged in the mud here.

    It almost seems like the ESA is just as spineless as it was under Dough Lowenstein!

  34. 0
    Loudspeaker ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Will Fox detract their story? No.

    There would have to be some horrible backlash against their sponsers and advertisers in order for that to happen. Considering their viewer base, won’t happen.

    Personally I feel it doesn’t matter. The real story was told in the New York Times which has much more clout and a larger reader base.


    Awesome response! It’s nice to see such a well written response to Fox’s dribble. Kudos!

    To those who wish Fox to burn for this, just let it go. They’ll simply blame Cooper Lawrence and say she’s the one who misled them rather than the other way around.

    For miss Lawrence she had learned a hard lesson about the cost of spouting lies and misinformation against a group that may not have a face, but definitely has a force and is intelligent enough to rally for a cause greater than their own individuality.

  35. 0
    Steve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Unaffiliated Anonymous has a very good point.

    I know they do get a lot of complaints. Even sadder, if you wander around the political blogosphere, is that people aren’t really mad about inaccuracies. They are mad that they aren’t innacurately skewed to a given ideology.

    Fox News’ premise was to make a right wing news channel because others were left wing. Thier whole purpose wasn’t to be more accurate than those they thought had it wrong, they just want to be inaccurate the other way.

    News has become a niche business. They all “fit” the news to target their target demographic. Things like accuracy, credibility, and integrity have been long lost.

    It’s disgusting, and it’s great to see any of them slapped around a bit. This is a particularly good one to do it with, because it is rare that they are demonstratively wrong and oblivious to reality.

    There is no case to be made that the game is pron, that it exploits women, that it is marketed to 15 year olds, or that there is anything explicit in it. Those aren’t opinions, those are simply easily verified as false statements.

    Since the smear on Mass Effect, or offense to it, doesn’t fall strictly along ideological lines, those that would normally offer knee-jerk defense of Fox News don’t feel as compelled to. They have made themselves a soft target for criticism with this story.

  36. 0
    Marc ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Check You can find a post in there about how one of the admins was in touch with JT and he actually had no particular objection with Mass Effect. I’ll try to find the exact link at some point.

  37. 0
    Trails ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Message for Hal Halpin:

    EA called. They said the bandwagon for their well timed retraction call just left the station, but another should be along soon.

  38. 0
    Unaffiliated Anonymous says:

    While this may be an issue for us, consider for a moment the sheer immeasurable volume of blatant lies and untruths that that television channel produces by the thousand on a daily basis. They must receive complaints from every corner of existence every moment of every day. They have all the legitimacy of a supermarket tabloid, and none of the knowing humor. Just because this ONE story mis-characterizes OUR group, does anybody honestly think they’ll actually admit to their broad sensationalist journalism or scare-mongering attitudes?

  39. 0
    William ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Because if he did, he would be arguing under Fox’s terms. He would not get as much time to make his case and set the record straight as other “experts” would to bash Mass Effect, it’s developers, and the videogame industry and community. How about Teri Van Horn, Geoff Keighley, ande Hal Halpin go on G4’s Attack of the Show where everyone might actually get a fair chance to make their arguments.

  40. 0
    Steve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Good effort. Short of Microsoft actually jumping in, I don’t think there is much of a chance for correction though. EA and the ECA are not Fox News advertisers, and not really their target market. EA could threaten to pull all Fox advertising, but that’s pretty extreme. I think they’d get that bluff called. There is no way EA isn’t going to run Madden, NBA, MLB, and NHL commercials during all the games Fox sports carries.

    I’d put the chances of a correction somewhere between slim and none. I wouldn’t mind being made a fool of on that, though.

  41. 0
    GryphonOsiris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Next thing you know they will get JT be their ‘sexpert’ in the matter.

    Hmmmm…. maybe their should be a Goodwin’s for JT. What to call it? Jack’s Law? Jack-ass’s Law? Jack Vader’s Law? Any ideas?

  42. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You tell ’em, Hal. I love how he notes that their own “expert” has already backpedaled. I suppose it’s too much to hope for Fox to do the right thing here, but even if they simply run a new segment with real industry reps that may be a moral victory in itself.

  43. 0
    lumi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ EZK

    I suppose the EMA might shuffle over to our side of the line, though I doubt it. Also, I’d maybe put the New York Times under “our” column, at least tentatively, since they posted the correction.

  44. 0
    lumi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I am glad to read this; I generally think Hal is one of our stronger proponents, and someone I would happily have at my back in a confrontation of this nature.

    That said, I have my doubts that this will even be acknowledged by Fox.

  45. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    @ IHM

    It takes some time for these things to be written. you don’t want to be too hasty, as that can cloud your judgement. But there is also the idea that he had to wait for a certain level of outrage from the organization members.

    Regardless I am glad to see the ECA standing up on this issue.

    I do wonder how many high profile companies and organizations it will take to get Fox News to retract their segment. So far, we have a multitude of gamers, EA, Bioware and the ECA. Cooper has retracted her statements. So we are waiting for ESA and Microsoft.

    Any others I am forgetting?

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  46. 0
    chris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You know, I can smeell change on the wind, things are looking up for gaming as a serious medium, we just need to keep pushing that envelope.

    or maybe my nostrils have finally gotten rid of thomspon’s stink after all the months of silence.

  47. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:

    Wow, this is exactly the reason I joined the ECA. I fully agree and am glad to see Hal go to work for us. Not that I’m holding my breath for a retraction . . .

  48. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just as an aside, does anyone else find it kind of ironic that this man derides people for attacking a game that has been released, but none of the detractors have played, at the same time as threatening to attack a game that hasn’t even been released yet and no-one outside the writers have any idea of its contents?

  49. 0
    Anon says:

    Even if they do correct themselves, it will just be like all the other corrections in papers and other news network, it will be very small and put in some place people will not notice.

  50. 0
    GryphonOsiris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Marc

    Of course. It’s not Take Two, Counter Strike, The Sims, or Halo. He has no beef against Mass Effect yet.

    @ Mad_Scientist

    To Thompson’s quote: “The guy who shot his mouth off about it had no idea what the Hell he was talking about.” (referring to Lawrence). Man, there are so many ironic points that can be made about this I don’t even know where to start…

  51. 0
    rumsey says:

    Steve! I thought you were going somewhere with your post, until I read this in relation to FOX news: “because it is rare that they are demonstratively wrong and oblivious to reality.”
    Then I quit reading cause clearly this guy knows nothing!

    J/K Great post, and it’s like Colonel Finn has said, this even has come and gone now.

  52. 0
    Trevor McGee says:

    I just noticed that Hal Halpin looks a lot like that guy, Lindsey (Christian Kane), from the TV.

    Anyway, it’s good to see so many people finally coming together and standing up against these sorts of bald face lies. It’s actually shocking that even Jack Thompson stood up for Mass Effect in a way.

  53. 0
    Pixelantes Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I do wonder how many high profile companies and organizations it will take to get Fox News to retract their segment.”

    Zachary, unless some of these companies threaten to pull their ads off of Fox channels, Fox News will not retract anything. They live for this shit.

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