"Fair and Balanced": False Advertising?

The credibility of Rupert Murdoch’s news empire is under attack. MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group, plans to file a complaint July 19 with the Federal Trade Commission charging that Fox News Channel’s motto, "Fair and Balanced," is deceptive advertising. A press conference in midtown Manhattan will be followed by a march of supporters to Fox News headquarters, where copies of the complaint will be taped to the company’s entrance.

The complaint follows last week’s release of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, by documentary producer Robert Greenwald, which draws on footage from the network to demonstrate a right-wing bias and support for the Republican Party. MoveOn.org, one of the financial backers of the documentary, will hand out copies to News Corp. employees. Also participating: former Fox News employees, Common Cause President Chellie Pingree, and Alternet.org Executive Editor Don Hazen.

Fox has already called the attacks specious and politically motivated. Responding to the Outfoxed documentary, the network said in a statement, "If any news organizations decide to make this an anti-Fox News story, then all of their material becomes fodder immediately for possible out-of-context and biased documentaries."

Also last week, News Corp’s flagship paper, the New York Post, ran a front-page photo of pop singer Britney Spears guzzling "whisky" while walking down the street. Despite the headline "Boozer Britney," the drink was actually a bottle of ginseng, a nonalcoholic supplement. She’s now threatening a lawsuit. Several days earlier, the paper ran a front-page story mistakenly declaring Dick Gephardt the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.