Daily Archives: July 20, 2004

Fox Could Be Sued for Consumer Fraud

MoveOn.org and Common Cause have filed a complaint against FoxNews with the federal Trade Commission claiming that its ‘Fair and Balanced’ slogan is so untrue that it amounts to deceptive advertising and consumer fraud.

Liberal MoveOn.org and historically nonpartisan Common Cause assert that Fox News’ reports are “deliberately and consistently distorted and twisted to promote the Republican Party of the U.S. and an extreme right-wing viewpoint.”Alleging consumer fraud, the complaint calls for the FTC to order Fox News, consistently the highest-rated cable news network, to cease and desist from using the slogan.

Complaining to the Republican-dominated FTC about Fox’s blatant right-wing bias is a little like taking a complaint about corporate thievery to that corporation’s PR flack, and in fact, before he’s even seen the petition, FTC Chair Timothy Muris is dismissing it.

“I am not aware of any instance in which the Federal Trade Commission has investigated the slogan of a news organization. There is no way to evaluate this petition without evaluating the content of the news at issue. That is a task the First Amendment leaves to the American people, not a government agency.”But Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause, said the legal actions were consistent with the First Amendment. “Fox has no obligation under the law to be fair and balanced, just not to market itself as fair and balanced,” he said.

Pingree has a point. The slogan is advertising and the law, despite conservative attacks, still exists that protects consumers from false advertising. If ‘Fair and Balanced’ isn’t false advertising, then the phrase has no meaning.

But if MO and CC are on the right track, they’re on the wrong horse. Petitioning the FTC is a monumental waste of time. What they might consider doing that would have more teeth–and more chance of success–is suing Fox in the courts for consumer fraud: selling a shoddy and unsafe product under false pretenses. Recent studies which we’ve mentioned here before have made it crystal clear that consistent Fox viewers are frighteningly ill-informed. Sixty percent believe that Saddam planned 9/11 with Al Qaeda; half believe we have found WMDs in Iraq; fully two-thirds believe that the moon is made of green cheese. OK, maybe not that last one–yet. But they would if FoxNews kept telling them it was.

The laws against consumer fraud were written to protect the gullible and the misinformed. Fox’s audience qualifies on both counts, and the evidence is overwhelming that the deception was deliberate, a Murdoch-ordered policy, in fact, which daily memos from his office telling the news division how to slant that day’s news will prove. Fox followed exactly the same pattern as the tobacco companies when they turned their ‘health studies’ into thinly-veiled ads based on false findings deliberately concocted to fool consumers. If they’re guilty, then so is Murdoch.

Summer Fun

The Swedish Chef translates Junior’s infamous SOTU speech:

Mr. Speeker, Feece-a Preseedent Cheney, felloo Repoobleecun CEOs, terrureest-cuddleeng leeberels, telegeneec culured tuddlers, und uneeffurm-veereeng meelitery prups:Emereeca thees ifeneeng is a neshun vheepped intu a stete-a ooff perpetooel perunueea oofer terrureesm. Und I, yuoor Soopreme-a und Oomneeputent Leeder, em reesing tu soosteeen thet. (Applause.)

In shurt… BE EFREID. Be-a fery effreeed. Be-a cunstuntly und perseestently effreeed. Be-a tutelly cunsoomed by feer. Be-a ebsulootely, *censured*-in-yuoor-Duckers terreeffied. Tu du oozeerveese-a is tu fuloontereely ley yuoor blooe-a-iyed bebeees et zee Mooslemeeun elter ooff secreefficiel moorder. Ooff cuoorse-a, dun’t be-a su a’scered thet yuoo feel leeke-a yuoo cun’t let yuoor keeds pley hupscutch oon zee seedooelk oor gu ebuoot yuoor deeely booseeness es iff yuoo vere-a leefing in zee 90’s. I’fe-a gut yuoor beck. In fect, I’m zee oonly oone-a vhu knoos hoo tu prutect thees cuoontry frum zee hule-a dvellers vhu treeed tu keell my deddy.

This is a hoot–if you’re easily amused or bored out of your skull or a fan. You can write anything you like and this gizmo will turn it into Swedish Chef-speak. Very cool.

Right-Wing Civility Strikes Again

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Linda Ronstadt was thrown off the stage of the Aladdin Theater by Aladdin President Bill Timmons when she dared to dedicate a song to Michael Moore.

Timmins, who was among the almost 5,000 fans in the audience at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, had Ronstadt escorted to her tour bus and her belongings from her hotel room sent to her. Timmins also sent word to Ronstadt that she was no longer welcome at the property for future performances, according Aladdin spokeswoman Tyri Squyres.

Near the close of her performance, Ronstadt dedicated the Eagles hit “Desperado” to Moore, producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and the room erupted into equal parts boos and cheers.She said Moore “is someone who cares about this country deeply and is trying to help.”

Hundreds of angry fans streamed from the theater as Ronstadt sang. Some of them reportedly defaced posters of her in the lobby, writing comments and tossing drinks on her pictures.Timmins told Las Vegas Sun gossip columnist Timothy McDarrah: “We live in a city where people come from all over the world to be entertained. We hired Ms. Ronstadt as an entertainer, not as a political activist.

“Whether you are politically on the left or on the right is not the point. She went up in front of the stage and just let it out. This was not the correct forum for that.”

Gutsy call, Bill.

Timmons’ explanation is as rank as his action. Tell me that if Wayne Newton dedicated a song to George W, Timmons would throw him off the stage and banish him forever for being ‘political’. Bullshit. It’s all political. Timmons is a Bush supporter who hates Moore and Moore’s film so he exercised his power to enforce his political views and then, with standard right-wing hypocrisy, blamed Ronstadt for being political.

It’s the Dixie Chicks all over again, and it stinks.

(Thanks to Thrasher at BlogCritics)