Fox News has taken down a heavily criticised column, penned by a top executive, that said the US Olympics Committee’s motto should be “Darker, Gayer, Different” and suggested some athletes qualified because they belong to minority groups.
In a piece entitled “In Olympics, let's focus on the winner of the race — not the race of the winner”, the conservative news outlet’s executive vice president John Moody criticised what he called the US Olympic Committee’s overbearing focus on the diversity of athletes.
He slammed the American athletics organisation for touting an “embarrassing laundry list of how many African-Americans, Asians and openly gay athletes” were representing America in the Olympics.
“The question probably needs to be asked: were our Olympians selected because they’re the best at what they do, or because they’re the best publicity for our current obsession with having one each from Column A, B and C”? Mr Moody wrote, suggesting that people were “assigning teams quotas for race, religion or sexuality”.
The piece quickly unleashed a wave of criticism, leading Fox News to pull the item from its website.
“John Moody’s column does not reflect the views or values of FOX News and has been removed,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.
The US Olympics Committee did not respond to a request for comment.
LGBT+ advocacy organisations blasted the piece, with GLAAD — formerly known was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation — assailing Mr Moody for disparaging athletes with “vicious anti-LGBTQ and biased rhetoric at what should be the proudest moment of their lives” and demanding an apology.
“These athletes are at the Olympics because they already won by qualifying to represent the United States on the world's stage; and they did so despite facing discrimination from places like Fox News throughout their careers,” GLAAD said in a statement.
An American athlete’s sexual orientation has already provoked an Olympics controversy, with openly gay US skater Adam Rippon saying he would not speak to Vice President Mike Pence because of what Mr Rippon called Mr Pence's anti-LGBT+ views (Mr Pence’s office has denied reports that it reached out to Mr Rippon to set up a conversation).