....LMB: "Suing Yourself in the Foot"....

August 12, 2003

On Monday, Fox News announced that they were going to sue humorist Al Franken over the title of his new book. The book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right," has a title which contains the phrase "fair and balanced", which has apparently been a Fox/News Corp. trademark since 1995 (If you have used the phrase yourself since the, kindly make out a check to Rupert Murdoch).

On Tuesday, the book's jumped at least 50 places on the Amazon.com bestseller list, all the way to #1.

Did the publicity surrounding the lawsuit drive this leap in sales? I dunno, I just report, you decide.

[edit]

I'm aware that many bloggers are adding "fair and balanced" to their website title as a form of protest, or raising awareness about the goofy lawsuit or something. But at this point, I think it would have the same effect to add "Buy Al Franken's Book," and I really don't feel like doing that.

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 10:22 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

A number of liberal blogs have added "Fair and Balanced" as well, for example, Eschaton at http://atrios.blogspot.com.

Posted by: Lex at August 13, 2003 07:32 AM

Jake: what is your take on Al Franken? I was surprised to see your remark about not adding "fair and balanced" to a blog because it would be the same as support Franken.

Posted by: quang at August 14, 2003 07:30 AM

Quang,

Sorry, I'll clarify.

I think that many of the bloggers decided to put the "fair and balanced" in their titles as an attack on Fox News or something like that. But I don't think it hurts Fox at all. At best, it will encourage people to buy Al Franken's book. And I'm not on his marketing team, he can sell his own damn book.

Al Franken is a very funny guy, and holds enough lefty views to not be repellant. I think if I ever met him that we would hit it off pretty well. But I am way way to the left of Franken, so I can't throw that much support behind him.

Posted by: Jake at August 14, 2003 09:56 AM

Jake,

>>Al Franken is a very funny guy, and holds enough lefty views to not be repellant<<

What the hell does that mean?

Here's a guy who is ACTIVELY opposing Bush and the GOP media dominance. While I appreciate this blog and support your efforts, Franken has done far more to to stop the "Lying Media Bastards" than almost any blogger.

But what is your complaint? That he is not left enough for you? That seems a little childish. One of the reasons the GOP has become so successful is that they DON'T nitpick over ideological purity. They recognize who is fighting on their side and support those people.

I can see two reasons to support Franken. To oppose an attempt by the media to stifle criticism by abusing trademark law. And God forbid, a few more people might actually read Franken's book and stand up to the right wing media lying.

I can see one reason to oppose the effort. You are not getting a piece of Franken's sales. All I can say is that if the first two reasons do not outweigh the last then your principles are mighty shallow.

Posted by: space at August 15, 2003 06:07 AM

Jake,

>>Al Franken is a very funny guy, and holds enough lefty views to not be repellant<<

What the hell does that mean?

Here's a guy who is ACTIVELY opposing Bush and the GOP media dominance. While I appreciate this blog and support your efforts, Franken has done far more to to stop the "Lying Media Bastards" than almost any blogger.

But what is your complaint? That he is not left enough for you? That seems a little childish. One of the reasons the GOP has become so successful is that they DON'T nitpick over ideological purity. They recognize who is fighting on their side and support those people.

I can see two reasons to support Franken. To oppose an attempt by the media to stifle criticism by abusing trademark law. And God forbid, a few more people might actually read Franken's book and stand up to the right wing media lying.

I can see one reason to oppose the effort. You are not getting a piece of Franken's sales. All I can say is that if the first two reasons do not outweigh the last then your principles are mighty shallow.

Posted by: space at August 15, 2003 06:08 AM

I suppose Jake is to blame for Gore losing the 2000 election. Please. While I can't speak for Jake's politics, I think I know what he's getting at. Liberals and conservatives are two sides of the same coin. When it comes down to it, both sides do their best to quell any alternatives to the current system. I suppose someone with a narrow view of the political spectrum would think that anyone who opposes the Bush regime must be all good. And you know why the Republicans are unified? Because they're good little fascists, following their leaders, rallying behind their common causes, so that's the example the so-called Left should follow? Shall we blindly follow ineffectual liberal leaders into unquestioning unity? I don't think so.

And what has Al Franken done besides call Rush Limbaugh a big, fat idiot? That's really going to have the Righties on the run...Long live the revolution!

Having said that, I'm not opposed to liberals all the time, but I think they lack the overall perspective and effectiveness (and even willingness) to address the problems we're facing, even though their hearts are in the right places.

I know this is getting away from the trademark issue, but that's my bit. I apologize for my harshness...Actually, no I don't.

Posted by: Eric at August 17, 2003 08:23 PM

Ouch, I'll try not to post while drunk, angry, or fatigued, or a combination of the three.

Posted by: Eric at August 18, 2003 09:30 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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