Joe Conason's Journal

After we change Fox's slogan, it may be time to change the title of Chris Matthews' show to "Softball." But only for certain guests.


Salon Staff
August 27, 2003 3:22AM (UTC)

Slogans and softball
Joining Al Franken on "Crossfire" was just as uplifting and edifying as I expected, even with Blanquita Cullum talking over me every time I tried to utter a full sentence. But there was one frustrating aspect of the show: I tried to slip in the new proposed Fox News slogan without success. I know I'm repeating myself, but that's showbiz.

As faithful readers know, the new slogan would be "Wholly Without Merit," a phrase lifted directly from Judge Denny Chin's recent decision in the Fox News lawsuit against Franken and the publishers of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." You can see how it would look here, where a thoughtful Web designer has created a new logo, free of charge, for Roger Ailes. I can guarantee Ailes that if Rupert Murdoch adopts this as the winger network's new trademark, nobody will infringe upon it, even as a joke.

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Naturally, a number of Fox fans have written with their own ideas about an appropriate replacement for "Fair and Balanced," including:

"We distort; you recite," for the dittohead contingent.

"Fairly unbalanced," for those who believe that Bill O'Reilly is off his meds.

"Holy without merit," for the religious right.

I had planned a complete historical exegesis of the "Hardball" anthology of Ann Coulter appearances, but that item was mostly preempted by yesterday's brilliant Daily Howler. (Another terrific blog on this topic can be found here).

But there was a bit of texture missing from the Howler piece, which understandably didn't go into the details of any of Coulter's eight (or 10, depending on the period in question) dates to promote "Slander," courtesy of Chris Matthews. The Howler article didn't indicate the tenor of his questions when she showed up for her third appearance within the weeks after "Slander" was published on July 2, 2002. (Nor did the Howler mention how, for some reason, Chris forgot to interrupt any of Ann's long-winded, predictable answers.) And the Howler would have had to wade through transcripts to demonstrate how the fearfully tough interviewer handled the notoriously prickly author:

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MATTHEWS: Name me your favorite liberals right now. Your favorite liberals.

COULTER: I tend not to go over them in my book, since this isn't a fan book ...

MATTHEWS: Ha! I stymied you.

COULTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the index of my book. But, no, I will.

MATTHEWS: I read the index.

COULTER: I'll give you one. I'll give you one. I mean, I say nice things about you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I know.

After we change Fox's slogan, perhaps it will be time to change the title of Matthews' show to "Softball." But only for certain guests. Meanwhile, with no TV or radio scheduled tomorrow, I expect to have time to read the papers and post something here about the real news.
[4:15 p.m. PDT, Aug. 26, 2003]

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