Ever since its inception, I've done my best to ignore Fox News. I've gotten rather good at it: I can sit in a hotel lobby and eat my free continental breakfast with Fox News on television. That's right, I can actually eat. Which is rather an accomplishment. So it's rather understandable that I was quite probably the last person in the United States to learn that Fox News not only described itself as "Fair and Balanced"; it had actually trademarked the phrase.

If memory serves, it was Adolf Hitler who said something to the effect that, if you repeat a lie often enough, loudly enough, and with enough conviction and authority, people will eventually believe it. And that seems to be the fundamental strategy of Fox News. And not just with the reactionary spin they put on their news coverage, nor even with the disinformation they pass off as information. Nor, for that matter, with their tendency to wrap themselves in the American Flag (and co-opt it as almost a logo, thereby desecrating it far more heinously than any war protester who burns, urinates on, or defecates on, individual American Flags). Rather, they're applying the old Hitlerian strategy every time they invoke their trademarked catch-phrase.

While watching the recent documentary, Outfoxed, it occurred to me that whether Fox News can be called "balanced" really boils down to where you put the fulcrum: it's elementary physics, that you can balance any load with any other load, if you put the fulcrum in the right place. That's how a "steelyard" balance, with a small sliding weight calibrated to indicate the mass of whatever it is you're trying to weigh, works. Think of the big upright scale in your doctor's office. So I ask again,

Rupert's nose marks the fulcrum

In the case of Fox News, Rupert's nose marks the fulcrum. With the huge elephant (representing Fox News coverage of the Reactionary Republican point of view) practically on top of him, and the tiny little donkey (representing Fox News coverage of everything else) way off to the side. So is Fox News "balanced"? Sure it is. But "fair"? If Fox News is "fair" to anybody who isn't a political reactionary, then the Weekly World News ought to replace USA Today as "The Nation's Newspaper."

Now, there's a petition out, to have Fox's trademark rights to the phrase, "Fair and Balanced," revoked on the grounds that an inherently deceptive trademark isn't valid. Even if they aren't enjoined from so describing themselves, just eliminating their exclusive lock on the phrase would be a giant step for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

But this is just One Geek's Opinion.

Sunday, July 18, 2004. Links revised Monday, November 16, 2015

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