Readers weigh in on Fox vs. Franken and Arianna vs. Estrich. Plus: Pundit David Horowitz on why Joe Conason himself is a "Big Liar."

By Salon Staff

Published August 26, 2003 8:45PM (EDT)

[Read "Franken Bests Fox," by Michelle Goldberg.]

Fox News Network has proved that those who can dish it out, can't take it. Their lame lawsuit against Penguin Books and Al Franken shows them to be a thin-skinned, humorless bunch. I totally agree with U.S. District Judge Denny Chin: The media and a media organization like Fox News Network should be protecting free speech, not limiting it. I am really surprised that they were able to trademark "Fair and Balanced" for the same reason the judge was surprised.

How can such common words be owned by a corporation? I have even more reason to disrespect Fox, and I am definitely going to buy Al Franken's book. I usually wait for the paperback -- but I think I'll spring for the hardcover this time.

-- Cindy Kaneshiro

When Franken vs. Fox first erupted, I was amazed that such a simple phrase as "fair and balanced" could actually have been trademarked. I guess I'm not the only one.

Fox News Channel seems to have taken a page out of the L. Ron Hubbard book of public relations: When in doubt, silence all critics with litigation. And the lawsuit implies that Americans may just be stupid enough to confuse Franken -- the guy who wrote for "Saturday Night Live" for decades -- with the Fox News Channel. Americans should not only be insulted at such an implication, but should take umbrage at the fact that a simple phrase like "fair and balanced" was trademarked in the first place. How could that happen?

-- Peter Barry

I love it, I love it. Thank you for making my day, one of the most enjoyable ever. How could O'Reilly be so stupid as to try this? I am a retired lawyer, and this lawsuit is the perfect barometer of Fox's overall IQ.

-- James Naples

What a bunch of crybabies! Fox News Channel (aka GOP-TV) commentators, from O'Reilly to Sean Hannity, have spent years bullying guests who do not agree with them, accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of all kinds of misdeeds while providing a soft chair for the well-known Barbie-in-jackboots to spread her venomous hatred of "liberals" and Third World peoples. But they go running to their mommy (the courts) just because a comedian writes a book critical of them.

Boo-hoo, there, there, little babies. Al Franken, bad man! Judge Denny Chin, wise man.

-- Pauline Binder

I noticed the Fox News Web site did not choose to write its own story on the outcome of its ridiculous lawsuit against Al Franken. I guess they couldn't bring themselves to review what the judge said: "This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

What's this all worth?

Pissing off Fox: 10$

Pissing off O'Reilly: 20$

Humiliating the Fox News Network in front of a judge and the nation while making sure that Al Franken's book zooms to the top of the bestseller list: priceless.

-- Michael Hager

[Read "Arianna's Campaign Diary," by Arianna Huffington.]

Did Arianna Huffington steal Susan Estrich's kid's spot in day care, or what? Estrich's personal attack on Arianna Huffington for being a bad mother is catty nastiness of the first water -- and so unworthy of Professor Estrich's stellar academic reputation that I found its petty meanness astonishing. Some foolish people would say that being a busy law professor and prominent writer would automatically make Estrich a bad mother as well, and I hope she would respond to them with the same surprise and contempt I feel for the collection of cheap shots she aims at Arianna Huffington in this article. Presumably Estrich will soon be regaling us with her "parental rating" system for the 137 other gubernatorial candidates in California, and, of course, her completely objective grading scale for what makes a bad parent. Gosh, and here I thought what was important was all of the candidates' qualifications for managing an out-of-control budget. What ever was I thinking?

-- Suzanne Lewis-Ship

As a paid columnist for your site, Arianna Huffington should not be writing for Salon even if she received no compensation for her recent "campaign diary."

Journalistic standards would dictate that you provide equal time to others competing with Ms. Huffington. I look forward to reading 134 columns over the next few months from the remaining California gubernatorial candidates.

-- Douglas Gordon

I was excited to hear that Huffington had entered the recall race, to present us with a progressive alternative to Arnold. That is, alas, until I saw that unlike all the other candidates, Huffington gets a free soapbox on Salon. This wouldn't be so bad, but the entire article is one of egotistical, vague musings on how Arnold is a male chauvinist, and how a mommy would be better. It's all about Arianna, with no mention of the most important party in the recall -- the state of California.

I hope that if another recall candidate approaches Salon with a straightforward explanation of his or her solutions for California's problems, you will see fit to publish them. Perhaps Cruz Bustamante or Peter Camejo have something to say about California?

-- Danny Howard

While I appreciate Arianna's conversion from the right to the left in recent years, and have always admired her intelligence and wit, her campaign is proving she is no less self-involved than Davis, Ah-nold, Simon or any other opportunistic politician currently polluting the electoral process.

The fact is that she knows as well as anyone else that Gray Davis did not cause our deficit; he didn't crash the dot-coms or cause Enron to scam the state, nor did he have anything to do with 9/11, which crushed our tourism industry. She also knows that the deficit is no longer $38 billion; it's about $10 billion. Yet she blames "professional politicians" for the deficit, and falsely uses the $38 billion figure.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't like Gray Davis -- but a recall should be a last resort to get rid of a criminal or a maniac, neither of which applies here.

Arianna said she'd get in the race to take on Bush; either do that or get out of the race. Who cares what Estrich says in her column? This isn't about Arianna, it's about California, and right now Arianna's not helping.

-- Mark Klein

[Read "Who's Tougher on Terror?" by Joe Conason.]

I think we may have found our Woodward and Bernstein for the Bush administration: Joe Conason has made it his mission to peer behind the curtain and expose the Bushies for the corrupt, carnivorous cynics they are.

Americans may be suffering a form of "buyer's blur" -- confusion brought on by an overwhelming amount of shallow information -- and Joe keeps hammering the facts home, keeping the headlines in perspective, keeping us honest. He is smart, courageous and unrelenting.

Ann Coulter, you better run.

-- Kay Hansen

Why does it not surprise me that the author of "Big Lies" should turn out to be a Big Liar? Contrary to Joe Conason's latest smear, I have never been an "ultra-leftist." Ever. I have a long publishing record as a leftist, available to Conason and any writer willing to check the facts, that shows that I was a mainstream New Leftist -- anti-Stalinist, anti-Maoist, anti-Weatherman, anti-vanguard party.

I note that Conason's attack on me for attributing responsibility to Bill Clinton for his country's lack of preparedness on 9/11 lacks a single reference to a single argument or fact in my writing on this subject -- of which there are many -- that led me to this conclusion. In sum, Conason's complaint is little more than an example of the kind of smear techniques he pretends to deplore.

-- David Horowitz

Salon Staff

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