Former college football broadcaster and failed U.S. Senate candidate Craig James, who was recently hired and fired by Fox within a matter of days, says his latest dismissal was due to religious discrimination. James told conservative website Breitbart News that he was fired for his "personal religious beliefs":
"I was shocked that my personal religious beliefs were not only the reason for Fox Sports firing me, but I was completely floored when I read stories quoting Fox Sports representatives essentially saying that people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports," James told Breitbart News. "That is not right and surely someone made a terrible mistake."
James continued, "I have worked in broadcasting for 24 years and have always treated my colleagues with respect and dignity regardless of their background or personal beliefs. I believe it is essential in our business to maintain professional relationships with people from a diverse background and have tolerance for those of different beliefs. I have never discussed my faith while broadcasting and it has never been an issue until now."
James, who ran for Senate in his home state of Texas and garnered just 3.6 percent of the vote in the 2012 Republican primary, is publicly against same-sex marriage. Per his campaign website: "I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, as ordained by God. I do not support the legalization of gay marriage." During a Republican Senate debate, he had the following exchange with the moderator:
JAMES: I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don't stand up with leaders who don't go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you're saying, Tom, but leaders -- our kids out there people need to see examples.
MODERATOR: Do you think people choose to be gay?
JAMES: I think it's a choice, I do.
MODERATOR: It's not in the genes?
JAMES: I think that you have to make that choice. But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.
While James' opinions and comments on homosexuality have angered some -- and, to be fair, pleased others -- he was not a popular broadcaster in his days with ESPN before his Senate run. In addition to bringing little to the booth beyond tired clichés and obvious, mundane analysis, his credibility took a massive hit when he played a major role in getting former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach fired.
When Fox Sports Southwest hired James as a studio analyst in on Aug. 30, the move drew a predictable disdainful reaction from the Internet. National executives at Fox Sports said they were not informed of the hiring before it happened, and they quickly snuffed out James' FSSW career after just one appearance on the network.
The Breitbart story claims FSSW general manager Jon Heidtke, who hired James, said the reason for the firing was because someone higher up the chain at Fox Sports was made aware of the broadcaster's view on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Fox says Heidtke never spoke to Breitbart, so it's unclear where the website found that information, and the company has released a statement regarding James' firing:
"At Fox Sports we respect all points of view, and despite reports to the contrary, the decision to no longer use Craig James in our college football coverage was simply because he was not a good fit for Fox Sports.
"Mr. James, while both experienced and knowledgeable, is a polarizing figure in the college sports community. Regrettably, the decision to use him was not properly vetted, and as a result he will no longer provide commentary on Fox Sports Southwest's college football coverage."
James' legal team told the Washington Times that he has a solid case for a discrimination suit, saying the firing violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
"The actions have also led to the breach of Craig James‘ contract and the impugnment of his career," Liberty Institute general council told Fox Sports in a letter sent Tuesday. "We demand the immediate reinstatement [of] Mr. James to the on-air college football analyst position. If you refuse to reinstate Mr. James, millions of Americans will be left with the impression that you do not respect religious liberty and Liberty Institute will be forced to pursue subsequent legal options."
(HT: Sherman Report)