Comedian Al Franken is being sued in the US by Rupert “I Rule the World” Murdoch’s Fox News over his new book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell them”. Why? Well his subtitle includes the phrase “fair and balanced” which Fox News has trademarked as theirs. Quite how you can trademark a commonly used phrase is beyond me, but there you have it, that’s the American legal system for you. For those unfamiliar with Fox News it sets out deliberately to avoid the normal attempt at ‘unbiased’ reporting that all other news organisations at least pay lip service to, if not actually adhere to. Bad as Sky News is in the UK (Murdoch’s UK outlet) Fox news is even worse – it is supposedly there to put right the ‘liberal elite’s bias’ in the media. So it’s pretty much Republican, pro-NRA and calling for all French people and single mothers to be burned at the stake. Franken is said to be delighted to be sued as it helps to sell his book like never before and gives great publicity to it and his subject – biased, lying propagandists who hide behind a thin mask, posing as legitimate news reporters. Surely he could also sue Fox for using the term ‘fair and balanced’ when it is patently obvious they aren’t? Isn’t that illegal to make a claim you don’t hold to?
This was particularly interesting for me to read bout this week as the head of BSkyB – Murdoch’s UK network – attacked the BBC and the license fee at this year’s Edinburgh Television Festival. He claimed people didn’t want a subsidised BBC and that they should sell of any successfull programmes to other networks in order to refinance in UK production. Considering Murdoch’s netowkr puts almost no money into UK production whatsoever and never has that’s pretty bloody cheeky. And besides, having seen Sky with wall to wall adverts and dreadful news coverage has made me appreciate the BBC all the more. It’s worth paying the license fee just to save us from Murdoch’s world domination.