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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Need an Opinion? Just Use MINE

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Fox News is trying to trademark its "Fair and Balanced" motto.  (If they are successful I plan to trademark my "I am the smartest girl in the universe" motto.  We'll see how that goes )  Does this strike anyone else as a strange thing to trademark?  I understand that they like the motto.  But do they need to protect it from general use by others?  I like to think that I am fair and balanced... Can I say that without infringing?  It reminds me of Trump's catchy-phrase "You're Fired".  He tried to trademark that baby, leaving millions of employers with a huge problem.  How to fire that guy without saying "You're fired".  (Double whammy = "After a fair and balanced evaluation you're fired")

A trademark is not necessary to adopt a motto.  I guess Fox wants the trademark so Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage can't start calling themselves "Fair and Balanced" as well.  Which makes just about as much sense.  Fox isn't fair and balanced.  And all their labeling of themselves won't change that.  The question is; Who believes that they are?
Apparently we do.  Or we might.  A petition was filed with the Federal Trade commission claiming that Fox News' use of the slogan "Fair and Balanced" constitutes deceptive advertising.  Deception in advertising is a big deal.  Unwary consumers have been afforded protection from unscrupulous merchants making wild claims about their products.  Commercial advertisers have to be truthful for good reason.  For instance, you can not market your new SUV as "More energy efficient than WALKING!" without some proof of the factual nature of the claim.  You can't just make stuff up.  (Put that Super Sugar Doughnut & Cookie cereal into a new box which says "Carb Free!"**)
Generally, this applies to stuff, not ideas or opinions, right?  I predict that the political advocacy groups trying to stop Fox from using its slogan will have a tough time.  After all Fox has no obligation to actually be fair and balanced.  But those groups do have a point.  Too frequently people hear "news" that's been spun and twisted and edited and targeted to suit the agenda of the reporting folks, only to take it as "Fair and Balanced".  That's like letting parents judge the baby beauty contest.  ("After fair and balanced consideration of all the entrants I am left with the obvious conclusion that MY baby is the most beautiful.") 
Take, for instance, Michael Moore.  A lot of people are peeved at him for being biased.  Well, duh.  He has an opinion.  He'd like you to have have the same opinion.  He attempts to persuade you.  Do we know anyone else like this?  We've mentioned two, but there are more.  People (Personalities) selling opinions just like any other product. 

Caveat Emptor, Dittoheads.
Whether or not the FTC has something to say about Fox's motto remains to be seen.  Until then, I plan to formulate my own opinions based on as many facts as I can gather.  If you're a busy person you're welcome to just adopt my opinions as they are clearly the correct (and Now Carb Free!) opinions to have.
** If you don't count the sugar


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