Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fox is Suing Al Franken

And I thought Fox was against frivolous law suits. I was surprised this morning, as I was watching the C-Span call in show (Yes, I actually watch C-Span) to hear that Fox News is suing Al Franken, and that the channel's lawyers are trying to get an injunction placed against Franken's publishers in order to stop his book- due out next month-"Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" from being published. Apparently, Fox has the words"Fair and Balanced" trademarked, and object to Franken's use of, as the NY Times writer puts it, the word "fair" and the word "balanced" together, connected by the word "and." I know that fox, in my opionion quite erroneously, describe their news coverage, as fair and balanced, but I think it is ludicrous to presume that no one then has the right to use these words.

What I suspect is the real problem is that the subject of Franken's book, the right, and the right wing media, is not too flattering to Fox, and this is just a half-ditched attempt to get either some spin, or actually try and squash Franken's book from coming out.

Here is what the Lawyers for Fox argue according to the Times:

Fox has trademarked "Fair and Balanced" to describe its news coverage and that Mr. Franken's use of the phrase would "blur and tarnish" it. "Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality," according to the complaint. "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." The court papers refer to Mr. Franken, who is a former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer, as a "parasite" who hopes to use Fox's reputation to confuse the public and boost sales of his book. Mr. Franken is also accused of verbally attacking Mr. O'Reilly and other Fox personalities on at least two occasions, and of being "either intoxicated or deranged" as he flew into a rage at a press correspondents' dinner in April 2003.

Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and the former lawyer, turned "television news personality," Greta Van Susteren, are all on Fox's lineup, and they are trying to attack Al Franken for being a parasite, and for having views that lack depth or insight?

The issue, all skepticism aside, is, can someone, or some entity, trademark the words, "Fair and Balanced?" I am leaning towards no. What do you guys think?


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