Anti-Gay Football Analyst to Address DC Conservative Summit

Craig James.Rex Curry/ZumaPress.com

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On Wednesday, the Family Research Council announced a new group of speakers for the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington DC, one of the nation’s leading conferences for social conservative activists. Among the featured guests: Failed Texas senate candidate and recently-canned college football analyst Craig James, who sued Fox Sports for wrongful termination last month, arguing that his firing over anti-gay comments constituted religious discrimination.

James, a former NFL running back and victim of a world-historical Google bomb—in which pranksters game a target’s Google search results to associate them with something unflattering—fell flat in his long-shot bid to win the Texas Republican senate nomination in 2012, but not before distinguishing himself as a fierce opponent of gay rights. “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,” he warned at a GOP primary debate. “I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade.” He went on to suggest that gay people will be judge (The man who won that primary election, now-Sen. Ted Cruz, also announced his opposition to gay pride parades.)

Those views didn’t do much for James’ candidacy (he took just 4 percent of the vote) and they ultimately cost him at least one job. ESPN never specified its reasons for letting James go, but used James’ anti-gay debate comments as an excuse to announce that it would not be retaining him after his election was over. His subsequent employers at Fox Sports were more candid, telling the Dallas Morning News, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department.”

Still, James makes for an unlikely martyr for conservatives, if only because he was an enormously unpopular broadcaster to begin with—the kind of on-air personality that would compel college football fans to make his name synonymous with quintuple homicide. In 2011, Sports Illustrated‘s college football writers unanimously selected him as their least-favorite analyst on television.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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