Virtue Signaling? After Rough Day for Fox News, Fox & Friends Literally Turned to Jesus
By any account, yesterday was a tough news day for Fox News. Bill O’Reilly‘s re-entry to the public spotlight to defend a reported $32 million dollar settlement with former colleague Lis Wiehl — and his subsequent media feuds with the NY Times, Megyn Kelly and even Eric Bolling — re-opened a still fresh wound of a past toxic environment led by former Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes.
Given how much Fox News railed on the Harvey Weinstein scandal, in particular how NBC mangled its coverage, many wondered if any of the Fox News opinion programs that delighted in the Weinstein story would address what appears to have been going on in their own building. Well — shocker — apart from a brief Howard Kurtz segment yesterday, Fox News has almost entirely ignored “L’affaire O’Reilly.”
What Fox & Friends did do however, was look to Christianity.
Today’s episode took a very different approach to “virtue signaling” with a slate of guests all eager to discuss their faith in scripture and Jesus Christ with devout Christian host Ainsley Earhardt. Some of the guests featured on today’s program included country western singer Charlie Daniels, Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Roberts, and Houston-based Televangelist Joel Osteen. We’ve edited together many of the highlights of their religious discussion on today’s program — which you can see above, courtesy of Fox News.
“Virtue signaling” is defined as “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” This term is most often used on conservative media outlets to criticize liberals who may tout the benefits of political correctness, inclusivity and tolerance, in lieu of more practical solutions to both policy and political topics.
The producers of Fox & Friends clearly know their audience, and the hosts of the show often talk about the values of Middle America — where openly discussing one’s religious beliefs often isn’t dismissed as distasteful proselytizing, as it may be in other, say, coastal locales. And to be clear, there is nothing wrong with Fox & Friends programming of this morning’s show. Many other competitive dayside talk shows (Oprah, Ellen, even the morning shows) historically feature discussions of more new age kind of spiritualism: meditation, yoga, etc.
But considering that yesterday’s news cycle was in many ways a parading of the alleged moral corruption of the Fox News workplace over the course of the past few years and decade, the sunshine soldier Christianity of Fox & Friends on full view this morning seems to be worth noting.
I’m reminded of a panel from one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoons in which Calvin is reading aloud to Hobbes, “‘It says here that religion is the opiate of the masses.’ What do you suppose that means….?” The next panel shows a television set thinking “It means Karl Marx hadn’t seen anything yet.”
Colby Hall is the Managing Editor of Mediaite, attended church in suburban Kansas City, and is a former Church Council Member in Brooklyn Follow him on Twitter.
–image via screen capture–
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.