A federal judge in Manhattan told Fox News yesterday that it had to learn how to take a joke. Then he rejected the network's request for an injunction to block the satirist Al Franken from using the words "fair and balanced" on the cover of his book, "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."One wonders what would have happened had there been a different Supreme Court back in 2000. In any case, it's good to see that the ongoing crusade to blunt every amendment except the 2nd has been delayed, at least this one time.
Calling the motion "wholly without merit, both factually and legally," the judge, Denny Chin of United States District Court, said that a person would have to be "completely dense" not to realize the cover was a joke, and that trademark protection for the phrase "Fair and Balanced" was unrealistic because the words are so commonly used....
....[Fox's] arguments were met by laughter in the crowded courtroom, as Fox tried to defend its signature slogan. Part of the network's burden was to prove that Mr. Franken's use of the phrase "fair and balanced" would lead to consumer confusion.
One round of laughter was prompted when Judge Chin asked, "Do you think that the reasonable consumer, seeing the word `lies' over Mr. O'Reilly's face would believe Mr. O'Reilly is endorsing this book?"
The giggling continued as Dori Ann Hanswirth, a lawyer for Fox, replied, "To me, it's quite ambiguous as to what the message is here."
She continued, "It does not say `parody' or `satire.' "
Ms. Hanswirth said Fox's "signature slogan" was also blurred, because people who were not associated with the network, which owns the Fox News Channel, also appear on the cover with Mr. O'Reilly.
Judge Chin said, "The president and the vice president are also on the cover. Is someone going to consider that they are affiliated with Fox?"
The courtroom broke into laughter again.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
The importance of an independent judiciary:
Posted by Demosthenes at 12:20 PM