Liberal activist MoveOn.org tried to take some of the oomph out of the news nets’ puffery last week, filing a deceptive advertising complaint against Fox News Channel over use of the slogan “Fair and Balanced.”
Fox News, says MoveOn., isn’t fair at all, and about as balanced as an upended see-saw.
Within hours, however, FTC chair Timothy J. Muris issued a rare public statement and said he couldn’t possibly consider the petition without stomping all over the First Amendment.
There was, Muris said, simply no way to evaluate the merits of the Fox News slogan without judging the news net’s programming itself.
Fortunately, that means other nets’ claims can’t be put to the test, either.
CNN, for example, calls itself America’s “most trusted network.” That implies “most watched,” but Fox News is actually the most-watched cable news net by standard ratings measures.
ABC News says “more people get their news from ABC than any other source.” Perhaps — but only if one counts radio, which not many people do.
Even among entertainment nets, slogans aren’t always on the mark.
Lifetime says it’s “the network for women” when, in actuality, it’s eyeballed by loads of gay men.
Clearly, the TV biz owes Muris a debt of gratitude: Imagine having to proof your puff.