In his Rolling Stone article about Roger Ailes, Gabriel Sherman writes that Fox & Friends works with "daily, structured talking points that come straight from the top." But it's not just Fox & Friends. As we've seen from the supportive coverage of the persecuted Christian coach, it's across the board - even on Bill O'Reilly's "no spin" show!
Fox's coverage of Coach Kennedy, now on paid suspension for leading students in public, post game prayer on the football field, is a classic example of Fox propaganda in that Kennedy's story fits nicely with Fox's patented persecuted Christian meme. It also shows the amazing control that Fox has over its message, in that the same scripted talking points are a part of every Fox discussion on the topic. Meanwhile, any mention of 1st Amendment concerns is immediately neutralized by the scripted Fox talking points which, coincidentally, are those used by the coach's lawyers.
For Fox, the story of persecuted Christian football coach is obviously a big freaking deal. Poor coach Kennedy has received warm validation on a number of Fox shows, one of which, America's Newsroom, is allegedly a "fair & balanced" "news" show. Bill O'Reilly added his voice to the Fox abetted "controversy" earlier this week. While O'Reilly didn't evince the same sympathy towards the coach that other hosts did, he still hit on all the scripted talking points.
In introducing the topic, O'Reilly advanced the talking points that the coach is just following tradition and that the prayer is no big deal because it is "after the game" - "Bremerton coach Joe Kennedy has a tradition of saying after his game." O'Reilly than articulated what appears to be the biggest Fox talking point, i.e. that this is "voluntary." O'Reilly repeated that the prayer is a "tradition" which has never been a problem up until now. O'Reilly didn't mention that Kennedy was also ordered to stop his locker room prayers - a fact also ignored in other coverage.
After O'Reilly introduced his guests, Coach Kennedy and his lawyer, he asked Kennedy to tell his tale. O'Reilly continued to stress how this public prayer had not been an issue with the school. Rather than asking if this prayer, as described by the school, is a form of proselytizing, O'Reilly said "you don't proselytize" - a question that provided the lead in for the VERY IMPORTANT FOX MEME that the prayer is no big deal because, according to Kennedy, it's voluntary. After Kennedy said that he is a Christian, O'Reilly Foxsplained: "You're not promoting a certain religion, just a philosophy of Christianity."
Shackleford defended Kennedy. He claimed that prohibiting Kennedy from praying is a violation of the 1st Amendment, along with the other talking points he mentioned during Martha MacCallum's very supportive interview. Bill kept the "voluntary" argument going: "you can't coerce' - a statement that provided Kennedy with the opportunity to say that he would never do that. When In continuing to work defense for Kennedy, O'Reilly stressed that Kennedy wasn't "favoring" one religion over another. Kennedy responded that he doesn't "even mention the word, God" although his prayer includes the word "Lord."
Fox propaganda - wash, rinse, repeat!