In exclusive comment to Breitbart News, former ESPN and CBS broadcaster and former Southern Methodist University and NFL star tailback Craig James criticized former employer Fox Sports Southwest for its firing of him two weeks ago over his public stance on same-sex marriage.
“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 twenty-four 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’s attorneys at Liberty Institute have sent a demand letter, given exclusively to Breitbart News, to Fox Sports. The letter is embedded below.
On August 30, 2013, FOX Sports Southwest announced that James would join its Fox College Saturday college football studio analysis team. James would be teamed with Erin Hartigan and former NFL quarterback Tony Banks on the Saturday postgame shows, as well as some segments of FOX Sports Southwest’s BIG 12 LIVE wrap-up. “We’re excited to add Craig to the FOX Sports Southwest team,” said Executive Producer Mike Anastassiou. “He’s a talented broadcaster who I’ve admired throughout his career. His knowledge of college football and the experience he brings as an analyst will be a tremendous asset to our coverage.” James was formally hired by FSSW general manager Jon Heidtke.
James’s first day on air was August 31. It went well. Nonetheless, on September 1, Heidtke called James to inform him that he had been fired. The reason, said Heidtke, was that somebody higher up in the chain of command had been made aware of James’s comments during his unsuccessful 2012 senate run about same-sex marriage.
In one of his primary debates in April 2012, James, along with the other candidates, was asked about same-sex marriage. After now-Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he opposed same-sex marriage, James expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage, and then discussed his religious perspective on same-sex activity: “People choose to be gay…I think it’s a choice. I do. Sam- sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, that’s done. And God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions. And in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.” James explicitly included himself and all other human beings as those judged by God. James’s positions on other social issues are similarly traditionally religious. On abortion, for example, James’s campaign website stated, “I believe that life is precious and must be protected–especially in the womb. Therefore, I am adamantly opposed to abortion.”
The Texas Republican Party platform is in adherence with James’s position. The Texas state constitution enshrines traditional marriage as the sole standard for marriage in the state of Texas; the constitutional amendment was passed in 2005 by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin.
Despite the fact that James’s comments represent a broad swath of the American public, and that his comments came well over a year ago, FSSW canned him over his views. Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch reported the initial news of the firing with a statement from FSSW: “Craig James will not be making any further appearances on Fox Sports Southwest’s football coverage this season.” But just to make clear that James’s firing came as a result of his religious beliefs, a Fox spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.” FSSW pulled its original press release celebrating James’s signing as well.
This is not just a blatant case of religious discrimination in violation of law. It is not merely an example of yet another step in the media’s attempt to silence those of a traditional perspective on same-sex marriage. It is a story that traces up much higher in the national FOX Sports organization than the regional network. That next portion of the story will be reported in coming days.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).