A PETTY POST

I’ll happily agree with all those saying that the President of the United States using the word “shit” in what he believed to be private is one of the least newsworthy angles on the current carnage in the Middle East. But seeing as it’s in the news anyway, I think it’s worth asking whether he really believed it to be private.

As with other ostensibly unscripted accidental colorful moments from George Bush (see Paul Waldman’s account in Being Right Is Not Enough of Bush calling the Times’ Adam Clymer an “asshole”), this seems to read as easily as a scripted reminder that George Bush is a tough guy from the heartland who doesn’t “take shit.” What better contrast with the legions of smooth-talking caviar-eating French-speaking girly-men whom conservatives imagine sliding through the halls of the United Nations and the G8? What easier way to grab headlines pitting the President against inaction without requiring much in the way of action?

And what could make for better Fox News headlines for a week than if some college professor somewhere comes forward criticizing Bush for using coarse language to talk about Hezbollah?

SOME OF HER BEST FRIENDS ARE LIBERALS

Reading this defense of FOX News (pasted here from Susan Estrich (via Dan, er, Finnegan), you would get the idea that she bears the cross and marches into work every day to get out a progressive message in a hostile environment.  If only.  Susan Estrich serves the same purpose as Alan Colmes: To provide a bipartisan veneer for the channel’s ideological assumptions and strengthen the contention that they represent not right-wing talking points but universally acknowledged common sense.  She revels in heaping scorn on Fox’s liberal target of the day as much as she revels in self-righteous claptrap about how open-minded she is and how much abuse she takes from all her liberal friends for it.  Her role on that show is as a fig leaf posing as an olive branch.

Real, real strong turnout at today’s protest on the eve of the Republican National Convention. Certainly much larger than either of the anti-war rallies I attended in New York a year and a half ago. There may have been little shared ground among the protesters beyond opposition to Bush, but that message came through loud and resoundingly clear, and is about as much information as the mainstream media can be expected to communicate anyway.

Speaking of which, the most telling moment for me may have been when thousands of us, in the middle of a protest easily several hundreds of thousands large, were causing a ruckus around the Fox News Headquarters. We looked up to the channel’s gigantic display overhead, and what was on Fox News? A discussion of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That, ladies and gentlemen, is as concise a statement of the problems with the corporate media as any.

The question hanging over the protest was what, in the event of a Kerry victory, becomes of this several-hundred-thousand-strong group, some of whom chanted Kerry’s name and others of whom wore masks mocking his face. How do those of us who identify as the left, re-energized and validated by the devastation wrought by the sitting President, organize with the same extent of urgency and breadth of coalition to hold accountable his replacement?

Not only did Fox News lose its “copyright infringement” lawsuit against Al Franken for subtitling his book “A Fair and Balanced Look at the American Right,” it looks like the presiding Judge gave the suit exactly the reception it deserved:

Calling the motion “wholly without merit, both factually and legally,” the judge, Denny Chin of United States District Court, said that a person would have to be “completely dense” not to realize the cover was a joke, and that trademark protection for the phrase “Fair and Balanced” was unrealistic because the words are so commonly used.

One round of laughter was prompted when Judge Chin asked, “Do you think that the reasonable consumer, seeing the word `lies’ over Mr. O’Reilly’s face would believe Mr. O’Reilly is endorsing this book?” The giggling continued as Dori Ann Hanswirth, a lawyer for Fox, replied, “To me, it’s quite ambiguous as to what the message is here.” She continued, “It does not say `parody’ or `satire.’ ”

Ms. Hanswirth said Fox’s “signature slogan” was also blurred, because people who were not associated with the network, which owns the Fox News Channel, also appear on the cover with Mr. O’Reilly. Judge Chin said, “The president and the vice president are also on the cover. Is someone going to consider that they are affiliated with Fox?” The courtroom broke into laughter again.

Ms. Hanswirth replied, “It’s more blurring, your honor.”

So you can now refer to this site as “Little Wild Fair and Balanced Bouquet” with impunity…