How Homophobic Do You Have To Be To Get Fired From Fox News?

Fox Sports fired football analyst Craig James after one appearance on the network, citing homophobic comments James made as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Fox Sports' handling of James' remarks differs markedly from how its corporate sibling, Fox News, deals with anti-LGBT commentary from its employees.

During his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's Senate nomination in 2012, James called homosexuality “a choice” and stated that gays “are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.” A Fox Sports spokesman explained the network's decision to sever its ties with James, telling 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.”

James' comments got him fired from Fox Sports, but they would have been wholly unremarkable if he was at Fox News, where rabidly anti-LGBT talking heads are regularly given a platform to spout their bigoted views with impunity.

Todd Starnes

A self-styled “bitter” culture warrior, one of Starnes' trademark specialties is delivering hateful commentary about LGBT people. Besides offering standard right-wing boilerplate language about how marriage equality will inevitably lead to bestiality, Starnes has also called the gay-inclusive, post-Don't Ask Don't Tell military a sign of “the end of days,” mocked transgender women as “big burly men in dresses,” and defended anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses. After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Starnes tweeted, “The NBA is turning into GLEE.”

Starnes has no use for LGBT allies, either. After President Barack Obama condemned Russia's draconian crackdown on gays, Starnes promoted a conspiracy theory that he has long been obsessed with - that perhaps Obama is secretly gay.

Bill O'Reilly

While The O'Reilly Factor host received widespread attention following his concession that the LGBT movement has the stronger marriage equality argument, O'Reilly continues to deliver a steady stream of anti-LGBT remarks. In 2012, he warned that pro-LGBT shows like “Glee” would encourage youthful “experimentation” with homosexuality and transgender identities. He has depicted gay rights supporters as protectors of child molesters, called students “fascist[s]” for protesting an anti-gay cleric, advised parents to shame boys who like the color pink, and denounced a new California law protecting transgender students as “anarchy and madness” and “the biggest con in the world.”

Mike Huckabee

As a conservative politician-turned-Fox host, Huckabee had already amassed a lengthy anti-LGBT record by the time he joined the network. As a U.S. Senate candidate in 1992, Huckabee called for AIDS patients to be quarantined, and as a presidential candidate in 2007, he refused to “recant or retract from the statement.”

Taking the fight against marriage equality to new intellectual heights, Huckabee cited “the ick factor” as one of the reasons he doesn't think same-sex couples should have the right to marry. On his eponymous Fox show, Huckabee has hosted anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), calling the FRC “one of the most respected family organizations in America.” In September, Huckabee spoke at the inaugural convention of a Trail Life USA, an anti-gay alternative to the Boy Scouts of America.

Erick Erickson

Erickson, a Fox News contributor, declared in March that gays have put themselves “on the road to hell.” Perhaps that's why he has solicited donations for the extremist Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group working internationally to criminalize homosexuality. After all, Erickson sees “little moral difference” between gay couples and incestuous relationships, writing: “Seriously. Why not incest.”

Erickson has also displayed a complete lack of understanding and compassion for transgender people.

Keith Ablow

Indeed, transphobia runs rampant at Fox, and Ablow is arguably the face of Fox's transphobic coverage. As a member of the “Fox News Medical A-Team,” Ablow has used his position at the network to routinely misinform on LGBT issues generally, and transgender issues in particular. He has crusaded against transgender acceptance and asserted that transgender identities are “psychotic delusion[s].” While Ablow is a vigorous proponent of plastic surgery as a means of boosting one's self-esteem - saying it's “nuts” for a woman to hesitate getting a nose job -- he condemns transgender people who “grotesquely amputate” their body parts in order to feel more comfortable in their bodies.

Meanwhile, Ablow also promoted an expert-discredited study casting doubt on the benefits of same-sex parenting. And Ablow's promotion of junk “ex-gay” therapy earned the pop psychologist a rebuke from Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, president of the American Psychiatric Association. According to Lieberman, Fox's medical “expert” peddles information that is “inaccurate and unsubstantiated by scientific evidence.”

Craig James' homophobic views might not play at Fox Sports. But at a network like Fox News, James' bigotry would hardly stand out.