August 15, 2003

A Fair And Balanced look at the Fox / Al Franken lawsuit

It's a little late, but I should add my small contribution to Fair And Balanced day protesting Fox News lawsuit against Al Franken over the use of the term "Fair and balanced" in the title of his new book.

To be fair and balanced, some of Fox's objections make a little more sense when one looks at the Franken book cover. The title "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" buries the "Fair and Balanced" phrase among other words. The graphics design of the cover makes the "Fair and Balanced" phrase a bit more standalone and eye catching. The title is visually more along the lines of:

And the
Lying Liars
Who Tell

A Fair and Balanced
        Look at the Right

That still doesn't justify Fox's reaction, in my view, but it does make it more understandable why they are complaining. However, the tag usage is clearly a fair and balanced parody.

More interesting is all the flaming in Fox's lawsuit:

77. Franken has recently been described as a "C-level political commentator" who is increasingly unfunny". ... Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality. He is not a well-respected voice in American politics, rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight. Franken is commonly perceived as having to trade off of the name recognition of others to make money. One commentator has referred to Franken as a "parasite" for attempting to trade off of Fox News' brand and O'Reilly's fame in the Preliminary Cover of his Book.


79. Defendants' use of the Trademark also tarnishes the mark by associating the mark with Franken's sophomoric approach to political commentary. Such a use lessens the reputation of FNC for having a team of first-rate journalists and news personalities who gather, report, and analyze the news.

Note the insults serve a legal purpose. The idea is that Franken is a bad guy, so that the judge should decide against him, and associating him with the trademark is bad for the trademark. It does sound silly in print. But is the judge more likely to be a viewer of Al Franken on Saturday Night Live, or of Fox News?

Some of those slams come from an article "Al Franken is a Conservative Commentator Parasite and Other Observations", which in itself is parodying Franken's book RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT and other observations." (Isn't it great how culture builds on itself?). But there's the source, "parasite", "Franken is a "C" level political commentator and usually unfunny", "needs to attack conservatives by name and then call them names to get attention", etc.

It's amazing what third-party flaming ends up in legal papers in court.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in legal , politics | on August 15, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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