August 14, 2003

FRANKENSUIT: It was reported earlier

FRANKENSUIT: It was reported earlier this week that Fox News Channel is suing writer/humorist Al Franken for copyright infringement over his forthcoming book, "Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."
Fox allegedly filed the suit at the behest of talk host and longtime Franken nemesis Bill O'Reilly, who engaged in a shouting match with the comic on C-SPAN the other month; they probably let him write the lawsuit too, as its full of Factor-esque mean-spirited references to Franken being "shrill and unstable," as well as "intoxicated," and "not a well-respected voice in American politics."
The suit, of course, has had the unintended consequence of sending Franken's books sales through the roof; in two days he's moved from #84 to #1 on FNC is attempting to obtain an injunction to prevent the book's release over Franken's use of the phrase "fair and balanced"- which is, of course, clearly a parody of Fox's laughably inaccurate tagline and won't confuse anyone old enough to read.
Even though he's a St. Jewish Park boy like me, I'm far from a fan of Franken's; his politics are way to the left of mine and besides, he hasn't come up with anything funny since that whole "Politicians Who Have Showered With Blacks" thing, and that was almost a decade ago. But there's little doubt that he's in the right here- clearly, it's Fox and O'Reilly who are being shrill and mean-spirited, and it's only a poetic justice that the advance Franken will get for his next book likely quadrupled in the last three days.
O'Reilly struck back against Franken's denials in his "talking points memo" on The Factor last night, reproduced on his website. Since its so audaciously hypocritical and hysterical, and the closest Mr. O has ever come to self-parody, I hearby offer a fisking:

In just a few weeks, the FOX News Channel (search) will celebrate its seventh anniversary, awash in success and publicity. In that short period of time, we have become one of the most powerful news organizations in the USA, an amazing accomplishment.
That is true, and Fox deserves credit for putting together such an effective operation in such a short period of time. They may have done so while piggybacking on the fiction of "fairinbalanst," but nevertheless...

But that success has caused an incredible amount of anger among some in the elite media
An entire network (owned by a massive multinational corporation) just sued one guy. But it's the one guy who's "the elite," right?

And their attacks on us have now resulted in legal issues, such as trademark infringement and defamation.
Little bit of hypocrisy there on Bill's part- he spends just about every night on his show being critical of everyone under the sun, but yet he's awfully quick to sic his lawyers on anyone who dares be critical of him, whether it's Franken or the proprietors of Then there was that infamous column where O'Reilly bashed "the internet" for saying mean things about him, and called for the creation of a federal "cyber police."
And besides, for someone who bitches all the time about the nefarious influence of "the trial lawyers," O'Reilly sure seems to sue people an awful lot.

The main point here is that trying to hurt a business or a person because you disagree with what they say is simply unacceptable in America.
It is? Say what? You mean a person like Ludacris? Or like Jesse Jackson? Hillary Clinton? The ACLU? O'Reilly ran an obnoxious, self-righteous, and borderline-racist crusade against Pepsi and Ludacris, a business and a person who said things with which O'Reilly disagreed. - and his boycott against them was not only acceptable, but Bill did it himself! Trying to hurt a business because you disagree with what they do or say is "not acceptable"? By that rationale, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was "un-American."
And besides, O'Reilly's nonstop Hillary- and Jesse Jackson-bashing, justified or not, has gone miles beyond anything Franken has done- much less in a book that hasn't been released yet.

Vigorous debate is embraced by us,
You mean like on "Hannity & Colmes," which, as has said, is about as "fair and balanced" as a Harlem Globetrotters game?

It is simply a joke for The New York Times to editorialize that fabricated personal attacks are acceptable under the banner of satire.
If I'm not mistaken, the Supreme Court has said exactly that- but then Bill couldn't imagine going through a whole monologue without mentioning the New York Times.

I wonder if The Times thought that Donald Sagretti (sic) was funny when he manufactured dirt to hurt Richard Nixon's political opponents.
Actually, I always thought Segretti, whose name O'Reilly can't be bothered to spell correctly, was quite a funny guy- he coined the term "ratfucking" (which always gives me a chuckle), made common practice of releasing stink bombs in polling places during voting, he had a funny haircut, and he was played in the movie by Robert Walden, who starred in the TV show "Lou Grant" and later appeared alongside O.J. in the film "Capricorn One." Plus, Segretti had the cajones to run for an California judgeship in 1995, and despite having gone to prison and been disbarred for his Watergame misdeeds, even resurfaced in 2000 as the Orange County co-chairman of John McCain's presidential campaign.
Besides, I love O'Reilly's hubris in comparing Franken's silly book- and the Times' innocuous editorial in defense of it- to Watergate.

I guess The Times editorial board would be yucking it up if their pictures appeared on a book cover accompanied by the word "liar."
Well, that's likely to happen whenever the Jayson Blair book comes out; the NYT would be wise to just ignore it, if you ask me.

There's no question that many of the attacks launched against FOX personnel are designed to injury and demean.
But what about the attacks launched by FOX personnel, and lobbed at liberals and centrists more or less every day? I've walked by News Corps' headquarters on Sixth Avenue a few times and now that I think about it, it does look sort of like a glass house.

It's unfortunate, but in this country, if you're successful or famous, many courts will allow defamation, slander and liable(sic) to go unpunished.
Aw, that poor, rich, famous, Bill O'Reilly. It must be so hard, when you attack people for a living, to have to deal with all the attacks... my heart bleeds.

But once again, that's not the issue here. The point is accountability. We are shining a spotlight on the haters and the enablers.
On second thought, maybe Bill and Ludacris have something in common after all- Luda doesn't care much for "the haters" either.

Talking Points cannot understand how people could side with the defamers and their pals.
In other words, it's a big mystery to O'Reilly why he's not universally loved by all. Listen up Bill- you may think you're God's frickin' gift, but dude- you're not above criticism. And when you go too far, as you do often, people are gonna push back. Everyone gets free speech, not just the people you agree with. When you send your lawyers after anyone who dares call you on your bullshit, it makes you look like a whiny little child. And now Franken gets to sell 'Lying Liars' as "the book Fox News doesn't want you to read."

But it's important to know just who these people are. For as Don Corleone once said, "kept your friends close, but your enemies closer."
But I thought Bill hated NAMBLA- does he realize he just endorsed the National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes? First Watergate, now "The Godfather"- O'Reilly really is stuck in 1972.

And that's The Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

No, I'd say the Most Ridiculous Item of the Day was, in fact, the Memo.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 14, 2003 02:32 PM
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