Hard vs. Easy

‘There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case.’ So said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin regarding the lawsuit that Fox News brought against Al Franken. In their overzealous attempt to squelch any criticism of their totally biased, right-weighted news coverage, Fox tried to get an injunction against the publication of Al Franken’s book ‘Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.’ Chin quickly dismissed Fox’s suit and did not grant the injunction.

Fox tried to win the injunction on the flimsiest of premises — that Franken was in violation of copyright law by using the phrase ‘fair and balanced’ in the subtitle of his book. Now, I ain’t no lawyer, and I’ve never even played one on TV, but I know enough about the law to know that their claim was frivolous at best. It is considered fair use (or maybe I should say ‘fair and balanced use’) to utilize portions of an original work in a work of satire. (For corn sake, Mad Magazine would have been stopped in its tracks forty years ago if that weren’t the case.) Secondly, the phrase itself is completely part of the vernacular. (Maybe I’ll attempt to trademark the words ‘salt and pepper’ to see if I can drum up a few extra bucks in lawsuits.)

How ironic it is that Fox feels the need to manage its viewers’ expectations by relentlessly promoting itself as ‘fair and balanced,’ instead of (heaven forbid) actually being fair and balanced.

The delicious part is that all the attention garnered on this suit has helped catapult the book to the second place on Amazon.com‘s bestseller list on its first day of publication.