Al Franken Is Right & Fox Is Wrong? Ugh…

Remember how ridiculous Spike Lee looked when he sued Spike TV because he claimed people would associate the network with him? Well, Fox News has topped him. They’re suing Al Franken for using the term “fair & balanced” in the title of his new book. Plus they had some really nasty things to say about Franken like…

“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.”

Well, OK, so that one is true. But what about…

“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. Mr. Franken has not filed a response in court to the suit.”

I’m betting on deranged. But setting aside Al Franken’s odious personality, Fox is 100% in the wrong here.

First off, the phrase “fair & balanced” is certainly not exclusively associated with FOX & never has been whether they registered it as a trademark or not. To the contrary, that phrase is so commonly used that a Google search for the words “fair and balanced” pulls up 44,200 entries.

Moreover, the idea that consumers are going to confuse Al Franken’s book “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” with a book written by someone at Fox News is about as likely that a dittohead is going to think “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” was penned by Rush himself. It’s just not going to happen.

So since Fox has no legitimate complaint about Franken’s book, why are they doing this? Could it be because that there are people at Fox with a grudge against Franken because of his ridiculous behavior (O’Reilly comes to mind) who want to put the screws to him? So they’re suing him, making him pay out big bucks to a lawyer, and generally trying to get in the way of his book release just to get a little payback. If you got some people who work at Fox behind closed doors, I’m betting that’s about what they’d tell you was happening.

But to me, that sort of silly behavior is just another reason why we need a loser pays principle in our justice system. When Fox loses in court (and they will if they take this all the way), they should have to pay at least a part of Franken’s legal bills, if not all of them. Fox shouldn’t be filing this frivolous lawsuit. But if they’re determined to go ahead with it, then they should have to pick up the tab.

***Update***: Fox’s brilliant strategy has driven Franken’s book up to
#4 on Amazon. Nothing like a little controversy to help you sell more books. If this suit wasn’t so dumb, Franken’s publicist would have to send Fox a fruit basket…

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