Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Fox News: Fairly Unbalanced

It just goes to show how often I watch Fox News (practically never), that I was completely unaware that the term “Fair and Balanced” is the news channel’s copyrighted trademark.
Fox News, for reasons that are still unknown, has filed suit against political satirist and comedian Al Franken over the title of his latest book: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right”.

The ensuing publicity resulting from the lawsuit has had the predictable result of pushing presales of Franken’s book to the top of the charts. So that just leaves the question as to why Fox chose to do this. Either they have some mysterious reason as yet unkown for wanting to boost sales of Franken’s book, or they were just being incredibly stupid. My money is on the latter.

In the most recent issue of The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg writes about the political imbalance on the nation’s radio talk shows which feature endless hours of mindnumbing banter from hard-right conservatives. Even in liberal New York City you can’t turn on your radio without the fear of being harangued by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Bob Grant, Mark Levin and many, many more.
He notes the recent effort underway by a couple of Chicago venture capitalists to start a competing liberal talk network - which could be hosted by Al Franken. But he has doubts that such a network could ever be as successful and I would have to agree with his assessment.
The right wing radio shows succeed because:

“a substantial segment of the right-wing rank and file enjoys listening, hour after hour, as smug, angry, disdainful middle-aged men spew raw contempt at reified enemies, named and unnamed... To the chronically resentful, they offer the sadistic consolation of an endless sneer...”

As much as I enjoy Al Franken’s humor and appreciate his political views, I just don’t think I would spend hours listening to him or anyone else on the radio everyday ranting about things from a left-wing perspective. Maybe it’s because I am comfortable enough in my beliefs that I don’t need that kind of constant reassurance.

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