The Left and Laughter

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When they say the Left has no sense of humor, and is addicted to lawsuits & government intervention, I'm pretty sure they're talking about stuff like this:

Yesterday, MoveOn.Org and political watchdog Common Cause filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming that Fox News Channel's slogan "fair and balanced" violates the federal agency's prohibition against deceptive advertising. At the same time, the Independent Media Institute, an advocacy group for alternative journalism, announced it had filed a challenge against Fox News' trademark on the term "fair and balanced."

Next up: Activists point out that the New York Times can't possibly consist of all the news that?s fit to print?.

There's a telling moment at the end of the new MoveOn-distributed Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, in which Air America executive David Goodfriend shares his dream that one day our nation's capitol will swell with patriotic tourists who will visit the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, and … the FCC. (To do what? Complain that conservatives and Republicans finally have a friendly cable-news outlet? Must ? eliminate … now!!) Sometime around this heart-tugging speech we see some protester holding up a sign that says "diversify our media." The central irony of Outfoxed—which is an interesting and entertaining look at Fox News' politically motivated practices, sandwiched in between wholly unconvincing far-left prescriptions for Taking Back Our Media—is that Murdoch actually represents diversity, and has in fact paved the way both for unsuccessful partisan media outlets like Air America, and wildly successful partisan media like the Michael Moore industry. (For more on this, read Ben Compaine's terrific January 2004 cover story.) There is a healthy and probably underdeveloped market out there for politically slanted news, and the less the government gets involved in dictating what that will look like, the more likely we will see more documentaries like Outfoxed.

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  1. Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: One, and THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!

  2. Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: One, and THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!

  3. My old political science prof always chided me if I ever tried to proclaim bias in the media. His response basically disarmed me. He said.

    “I prefer the European Media coverage. Dailys, Weeklys, Monthlys, etc, all announce their bias so you know what you’re going to get. The Guardian is Liberal, left. The Economist is Liberal, right.”

    I now read the American papers starting with the Editorial section.

  4. Beat ya too it good buddy: “My prediction: Fox will threaten to sue the New York Times over the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” The unbiased NYT will tell their operatives to stop. But, it won’t be necessary because the FTC will just consider it a juvenile publicity stunt.”

    Whatever the merits of their letter, the bottom line is they’re trying to shut up Fox. And, that’s happening in Britain too.

    Why are “liberals” so apparently afraid of speech that challenges their core conceptions?

  5. Speaking of which, I recently subscribed to The Economist to get better world news coverage. It’s all that but I find it very hard to read.

    You can’t tell what an article is about from the titles, there are no captions to the photographs and I couldn’t even determine where the story is taking place until I got used to looking above the title to see the word Niger or Canada. And the point of the article is usually understated and buried by the story’s set-up.

    Anybody else find it hard to read?

  6. Loney — As always, I take my cues from thou. Either that, or we’re both hacks.

    Fred — Just lie back and think of Mother England. If you’re anything like me, the logic of their presentation will eventually wash over you, and you will eventually become addicted to the mag’s thigh-slapping gimmickry. At the very least, it should kill and desire to read Time, Newsweek, or US News.

  7. No captions on the photographs? Only some of them. The rest tend to have hilarious captions.

    My favorite: In an article on the Wall Street scandals they showed Bush delivering a speech on Wall Street. The caption was “There must be some way out of here”. You can fill in the rest of the song lyric yourself.

  8. Being in the newspaper industry (albeit for a small town weekly), journalists take accusations of bias very personally. While there is a minority of journalists who are more than happy to admit that they slant their news to crusade for their particualr cause, most honestly believe that they are “impartial” and “balanced” and will not accept any other evidence that says otherwise. To call someone’s reporting “biased” is a gross insult to their professionalism.

    Of course, they believe that if there IS any bias in the news, it’s to the right because the media is run by EVIL Inc. and will not run news that is critical to the interests of big business, the captialist overlords, etc..

  9. One of the complaints that media critics on both sides of the spectrum use is “it’s not what they report, it’s what they DON’T report.” Each year, the the self-proclaimed news watchdogs will come out with lists of the top “censored” stories of the year which are usually made up of unconfirmed rumors and conspiracy theories that make your garden variety schitzophrenic look sane.

    We should give reporters and editors more credit than that. Journalists, for all their potential political baggage, are not about to sacrafice their careers just to run the lastest, unsubstantiated, paranoid, theory about the President. (i.e. Bill Clinton had Vince Foster killed, Dubbya knew that the 9-11 attacks were coming, etc.).

  10. most honestly believe that they are “impartial” and “balanced” and will not accept any other evidence that says otherwise. To call someone’s reporting “biased” is a gross insult to their professionalism.

    That they honestly believe it does not make it so. It’s not a gross insult to their professionalism, it’s a gross insult to their arrogance in thinking they have an impartial and balanced view. There is no such view.

  11. you mean he didn’t?

  12. Actually I thought it was mildly amusing for them to get sued over their slogan when they’ve sued others over it. You know, that Al Frankin book, etc.

  13. I guess we can no longer argue that MoveOn.org gets results…fast.

    FTC Responds to MoveOn.org complaiat

    “That is a task the First Amendment leaves to the American people, not a government agency.”

    That’s how you put the “biscuit in the basket”.

  14. I posted this in another thread, but . . .

    A study was done comparing sources used in news stories with those used by politicians. It found that sources used by lefty politicians tended to be used more often by reporters. Fox news and Drudge came closest to a “no bias” state, although for Drudge that’s probably due to linking to stories on other web sites . . .

  15. I don’t how it matters what journalists, or anyone else, truly believes, it’s what they do that counts.

    Sure, the liberal bias thing is often overstated by righties, and you know that the real problem for them is that they want to be the ones on top. My own anecdotal experience is that most people who deny the bias can’t see it becasue it’s perfectly in line with their own views – a fish knows nothing of water.

  16. Each year, the the self-proclaimed news watchdogs will come out with lists of the top “censored” stories of the year which are usually made up of unconfirmed rumors and conspiracy theories

    I could provide a link-rich post, but consider these two:

    1. War hero Jeremiah Denton was prevented by Dems from celebrating July 4th in the CA Assembly. The only places that covered that were: WashTimes, WND, NewsMax, and Human Events. Two CA cong.s featured letters about it on their sites. The story was passed around via email; Snopes has covered it.

    The only coverage from the LAT was on July 12th as the second of six blurbs in their “Inside Politics” section. It was covered in a near-“wacky” manner by someone who did a hit piece on Bob Dornan a few months ago.

    2. I’ve coined the phrase “PIIPPs” to mean “pro-illegal immigration puff pieces.” These start out with the first name of an “immigrant” and their plight, then go on to advocate for illegal immigration. Search for the third instance of lonewacko here to see six of them. It’s really shocking when you see them together.

    Now, Kansas is being sued by 24 citizens and legal immigrants claiming they’re the victims of “reverse” discrimination because they have to pay more for college tuition than illegal aliens. Some of these PIIPPs are about the laws that make it possible for illegal aliens to pay less than U.S. citizens. Will the “unbiased” media report sob stories on the 24 plaintiffs, or will they continue just to report sob stories on illegal aliens?

  17. What gets me about the Fox/Outfoxed bruhaha is that as far as I can tell, Fox is about as even handed as any other network news programming throughout its daytime, “hard news” programming. The part being objected to is the primetime and post-primetime stuff that I wouldn’t classify as “hard news” at all, but is “editorial” just as are the “Outfoxed” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” movies.

  18. From this lawsuit to the plans to take Limbaugh off Armed Forces Radio to make it an NPR safe zone, we see a movement afoot to shut down anything not parroting the lefty line (and interestingly, the common thread here is David Brock).

  19. No sense of humor? This lawsuit is performance-art GOLD! I mean, yeah, it’s one thing for liberals to be righteously indignant about how Fox claims to be “Fair and Balanced” but isn’t. It’s quite another for MoveOn.org to point-blank put the falsehood of the claim in a spotlight and use the federal court system to hoist Fox on its own petard.

  20. This lawsuit is performance-art GOLD!

    Keep it coming! They’ve almost reached PETA level. (Although, Lisa Franzetti in her tiger suit kinda puts PETA in a whole new light.)

    One interesting thing about the Jeremiah Denton story, for those who appreciate fine irony:

    Fabian Nunez’ spokesman said one of the reasons Denton was prevented from speaking was because the legislature was too busy with important matters.

    Yet, on the day Denton had been scheduled to speak, they spent 20 minutes giving a farewell party to…

    a retiring reporter…

    from (wait for it!)…

    the L.A. Times.

  21. Nobody’s trying to shut down anything with this suit, HH. This is about using the discovery process to publicize NewsCorp’s business practices.

    Transparency is good for markets, including the marketplace of ideas.

  22. I call them girlie men!

  23. I always thought it was the Repubs that were sticks in the mud. Most of my leftie friends are pretty entertaining, we just avoid the subject of gun control is all.

  24. Journalists, for all their potential political baggage, are not about to sacrafice their careers just to run the lastest, unsubstantiated, paranoid, theory about the President. (i.e. Bill Clinton had Vince Foster killed, Dubbya knew that the 9-11 attacks were coming, etc.).

    I don’t know about you, but I heard the “Clinton killed Foster” and “Dubya knew that the 9-11 attacks were coming” rumors through the press. Yeah, most journalists might hesitate to publish an unsubstantiated rumor — but since “a couple different people told me it was true” counts as “substantiation”, that doesn’t mean much. And if they can’t find a couple of folks who’ll go on the record saying that, for example, Dick Cheney launched the Iraq war to enrich Haliburton, well then it’s time to bust out the tried and true “the Cheney camp remains troubled by accusations that the Vice President launched the Iraq war to enrich Haliburton” storyline. Heck, you don’t even need sources for one of those stories — the very act of printing it makes it true.

  25. “Each year, the the self-proclaimed news watchdogs will come out with lists of the top “censored” stories of the year which are usually made up of unconfirmed rumors and conspiracy theories.”

    I love Project Censored. Someone needs to do a right wing book on the best of PC. My favorite was the Space Shuttle is destroying the ozone layer — the #2 censored story from 1990, and bogus through and through. And bonus points for being spread by Helen Caldicott.

  26. Sense of humor? I’d say its not a matter of political orientation. I know funny liberals and funny conservatives? Its about humor.

    Some liberal ain’t funny. You shot the biggest fish in the barrel there. Some conservatives, likewise, aren’t funny. Twin fish, you can nail them both with one shotgun blast.

    The truth – some people aren’t funny. Franken is hilarious, university professors usually aren’t. Dennis Miller is funny, most evangelists aren’t.

    Sheesh, get over it people. Because some people with a particular political point of view aren’t funny doesn’t mean they all aren’t. There *is* more than one way to judge people – not just their political orientation.

  27. Matt,
    K-Lo stole your joke.

  28. I’m totally suing her.

  29. “Franken is hilarious…”

    Buddy, tell me when that happened — I know it didn’t happen anytime between the Al Franken Decade and the Stuart Smalley movie.

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