Anti-Fox Filings Divide FNC Critics

J$P Exclusive! The sponsors of "Outfoxed" are filing legal actions against Fox News Channel. But one of their own inner circle is not happy about it.

The filings against Fox News reported by CableNewser have the stamp of an obvious publicity gimmick (complete with a march to Fox headquarters to "deliver papers"). However, an attempt to raise election-year legalities by claiming that Fox News is "an arm of the Republican Party" has sinister overtones.

Imagine if by some fluke the Feds were to accept this notion. Would it mean that Fox News would suddenly be held to some arcane spending restrictions? Would they have to file a gazillion reports to some agency in DC? The possibilities, and the repercussions, are limitless. Even though the chances of such a finding are remote at best, this would represent a real threat to the freedom of the press and the first amendment. So much so that one of the key members of the Outfoxed inner circle has spoken out against it.

Prof Lawrence Lessig, recognized as a scholar in the areas of copyright, fair use, and first amendment freedoms, is part of the Outfoxed in-group, providing legal counsel and advice to the producers. Prof Lessig is familiar with the nature of these filings, but he does not share the enthusiasm of his Outfoxed colleagues. "I don't like lawsuits in this context, so I'm skeptical" he told us. "Words, not lawyers."

On Lessig's own site, he writes frequently of the need for more discussion and less litigation: "We need more debate in America, not less...A commitment to these free-speech values is a commitment to fighting wars of ideas with more speech, and fewer lawsuits."

posted: Sun - July 18, 2004 at 12:42 AM       j$p  send