Fox News Retracts a Top Executive’s Column on Olympic Team Diversity

Fox News on Friday retracted an incendiary op-ed article by one of its top executives, after the piece drew criticism for mocking American Olympic officials who had emphasized the diversity of this year’s team of athletes. The column suggested, sarcastically, that the United States Olympic Committee adopt a new motto: “Darker, Gayer, Different.”

The piece, published Wednesday and written by John Moody, an executive vice president and executive editor of Fox News, caused an uproar on social media. Some of the network’s employees expressed dismay that Fox News had allowed the article to be published on its website.

“John Moody’s column does not reflect the views or values of Fox News and has been removed,” the network said in a statement.

Mr. Moody, a Time magazine alumnus who was one of the network’s earliest senior news managers, was close to Roger E. Ailes, Fox News’s former chairman. Mr. Moody’s role at Fox News has dwindled over the years; despite his lofty title, he has little formal oversight over the channel’s day-to-day coverage.

The column, however, returned Mr. Moody to the spotlight. Its headline, “In Olympics, let’s focus on the winner of the race — not the race of the winner,” prefaced a critique of American Olympic officials who had praised the diversity of the squad headed to this month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

“No sport that we are aware of awards points — or medals — for skin color or sexual orientation,” Mr. Moody wrote.

“Were our Olympians selected because they’re the best at what they do,” he added, “or because they’re the best publicity for our current obsession with having one each from Column A, B and C?”

The essay was denounced by gay advocacy groups including Glaad and the Human Rights Campaign.

Mr. Moody’s longevity at Fox News, which he joined in the 1990s, was cited as one reason that editors at FoxNews.com deferred to him in publishing the piece.

Fox News has been on a public rehabilitation campaign since the ouster of Mr. Ailes in 2016 and, later, the channel’s longtime star anchor, Bill O’Reilly, amid a variety of claims involving harassment and intimidation.