Can a legitimate suit against Fox news be filed?

So can the Fox news network be sued for false advertising because of its claim to be “fair and balanced” when it is so obviously leaning toward one side of the political spectrum?

Also, can a legal action be brought against a news network for skewed–or even fake–reporting?
I’m not looking for opinions on whether Fox news is good or bad, but I think that it can be stated as fact that it is strongly oriented toward the right.

I doubt it, since that judgement will always be subject to opinion.

AFAIK the only “fake reporting” lawsuits that have ever been successfully prosecuted involved real people who were able to prove they had personally been harmed by the story.

Like Revtim said, you may not think it is “fair and balanced,” but there are many out there who do. Just for the purposes of argument, you may, on the other hand, think CNN is “fair and balanced” while others think that it is “strongly oriented toward the left.”

Who is right? Nobody; it’s all opinion, and Fox News is a private organization and can skew as they like, I suspect.

Courts are extremely reluctant to interefere with the editorial content of news (either in print or broadcast). So you’d have to show a very specific intent to deceive. While many people (including myself) think Fox News is clearly partisan, you’d never be able to demonstrate that as an objective fact. And as a practical matter, you should consider the likelihood of the current Supreme Court finding anything too conservative.

Fox cannot even be stopped from running false stories that it knows are false, so long as individuals are not are not libeled in it.

I will find a link for this. Basically, Fox fired two reporters for refusing to lie in their reporting in a series on Bovine Growth Hormone. The reporters sued based on wrongful termination. The reporters won the case and several appeals by Fox, until it came to a Florida appeals court which ruled that Fox has no obligation to tell the truth.

Oh yeah. Because CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC are so “objective” and “impartial”. Why is it that the liberals always get into a snit about Fox News whe they’ve had a lock on all other media organizations for so long?

Even though that is an obviously biased site (not “fair and balanced,” you see :)) it is visible that the case that Boyo Jim mentioned was against a local station of the Fox Network, not Fox News.

Rex, GQ isn’t the place for bickering, as the OP said and as manhattan has said.

If you feel you must, take it up with the friendly people in The BBQ Pit. :slight_smile:

The old principle of law is that there is no tort where there is no injury. There is a Latin maxim to this effect, not that I remember it.

Setting aside for a moment the extremely slippery question of proving that Fox was not objective “enough” as a matter of law, to sue Fox News successfully one would need to show damages.
Generally, that means you would have to show you were actually “out” something, or otherwise injured.

Would you want to argue that you were duped into watching their news by their advertisements, and that this prevented you from making some valuable use of your time? Or would you want to argue that were misled for a time by their slanted coverage, and this caused you injury? You might even want to argue that your quality of life has been degraded because watching slanted news coverage has caused many of the people with whom you come into contact to become foolish and prejudiced.

There might be some truth to such claims, but I think it can be seen pretty readily that they would be very hard things to prove in a court of law.

[slight hijack] I thought their “fair and balanced” line – both the meaning and they way they say it – is a great example of tongue planted firmly in cheek. I actually thought, “ooh, a network that pokes fun at itself, that is tacitly acknowledging the chief criticism universally made of them – how postmodern!”

Of course, nothing beats the polka accordion player on ABC’s “World News Now” [“the number-one source of news for insomniacs, the unemployed, and the strung out”]… although I haven’t caught that show in a long, long time. Do they still have that guy, and does he still get to do his polkas? [/hijack]

for a vast majority of people, “fair and balanced” means “agrees with me.” Those who are conservative will see foxnews as fair and balanced, while those who see them as biased to the right will flip to CNN where they will feel the warmth of a “fair and balanced” environment.

O’Reilly recently said there’s an equal number of conservatives & liberals at Fox News. Sorry, I know it’s not the greatest cite in the world :slight_smile: I know of Geraldo & Colmes on the side of the Liberals, but not sure of the others. As far as their lineup, Brit Hume and Shep smith and Niel Cavuto seem unbiased to me, and O’reilly & Hannity are obviously conservative.

Does anyone have a list of the reporters at Fox News, and a ‘fair’ assessment of each’s political leanings on air? That’s the only way we’ll solve this one…

Hume, Smith, and Cavuto are all conservative. They’re not as obviously so as O’Reilly and Hannity, but sometimes they will let loose with a tilted question. And then again some people will disagree with me on the point of them ‘sometimes’ doing it :D.

More importantly than the suit itself (in which the plantiffs alleged they were “whistleblowers”) is that the Court of Appeals ruled that there is nothing illegal about a television news orginization lying.

I think slipsater is right: you’d have to prove damages in order to be successful. However, this is America. You can sue anyone at any time for anything. (Whether you’ll win is another story.)

Sorry about screwing up your username, ** slipster. **

“No harmus, no foulus.” :wink:

I think a lawsuit of the type suggested would be stupid and (probably) unwinnable, in the end. But that doesn’t mean it would be laughed out of court.

Think of the Papa John’s pizza suit, a few years back. Papa John’s has been using the slogan “better ingredients, better pizza.” Personally, I never take advertising slogans very seriously, and I’m sure almost nobody else does. But Pepsi, the parent company of Pizza Hut, launched a lawsuit against Papa John’s, claiming the slogan was dishonest (“better” ingredients? ALL pizza uses pretty much the same stuff- flour, water, tomato sauce and cheese!) and unfairly maligned the competition.

I’d have expected a judge to dismiss the suit quickly, saying that hyperbole is expected in advertising… but the suit dragged on for quite some time.

In my opinion, there’s no legitimate legal action that anyone could take against Fox News… but that doesn’t mean someone couldn’t try, and couldn’t tie up the network in court for some time.

The court made no ruling on whether it was acceptable for a news organization to lie. The court ruled that the plaintiffs were not covered under the “whistleblower” laws, and therefore the basis of the suit (that they were fired in violation of the whistleblower laws) was invalid.

The defense team did make the argument that there is nothing illegal in lying, but it was not relevant to the eventual ruling.

No, the use of “better” in advertising claims actually has some legal standard. Surprisingly, “better” means more than “best”. The logic is that, as you noted, in a group of products where all of the competing products are equivalent all can legally claim to be the best. If everyone is tied for first place, then everyone is best. However, claiming your product is better means you are claiming there is an objective difference between your product and your
competitors’ and the difference favors you. This claim can be legally challenged.