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

January 28, 2008 -
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.


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.

Thank god.. good work Hal.

Nah, Even Bill saying "For shame" won't make 'em back down. They get ratings from controversy regardless of the means of manufacture.


If Jack Thompson's not bluffing, that should be worth a story of its own on GP!

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.


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.

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
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

@Internet Hate Machine

check this out:

I find it strange that gp hasn't covered this yet, concerning how it's normally THE place to go for JT news.

wait jack thompson DEFENDING a video game seriously we need to spam till they give weather reports on hell

or it could all be plans for looking more moderate for the disbarment hearing, at the end of the day somethings fishy

I smell something fishy with that Jack report and I smell a lisence to practice law simmering.....if you catch my drift.

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.

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.

@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.

@ The Ninth Doctor

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

What is JT up to?

Jack Thompson... Defending game...

Ow... I think I just got a cerebral hemorrhage.

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].

Am I the only person that picked up on the "weightiest" joke? It was hilarious ^_^

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.

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. 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.

Write in. Help make a difference.

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.

Jack Thompson is selfish, self-centered, and stubborn... And those aren't his only shortcomings. But we have discovered a hint of kindness in his heart.

Episode 3: A hint of kindness

@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

I guess it is a tough love relationship with JT.

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'

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.

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.

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.'

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?

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.

@ 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.

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 :P


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?

I don't think Geoff isn't a good rep for gamers... he just didn't get to talk.
But you know who IS defending Mass Effect... JACK TOHMPSON!

[...] GamesPolitics. [...]

Hal needs to move out of his mother's basemnet. You too, McCauley. And yes, I am a character assassain sent by Jack Thompson.

Sorry, BASEMENT, for all you OCD spell-checkers out there.

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.

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?


A news story should be the truth, regardless of its subject.

[...] One down! Still nothing from Fox, except an offer to appear on one of their shows, and an apparent willingness to let Cooper take the heat for them. Meanwhile, Entertainment Consumer’s Association has called for a retract of the story. [...]

@ Dark Sovereign

Aye. As a wise man once said, "The system is shit, truth is all that matters."

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.

We call on Hal to pay all those writers he screwed over in the days when he ran GameWEEK magazine. Huzzah!
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