Fox News executive VP suddenly out after writing a non-PC article on the Olympics
Fox News appears to have given one of its marquee hosts – Juan Williams – considerable slack for his on-air defense of controversial Nation of Islam head The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. John Moody, a longtime Fox News executive and vice president who authored a column questioning the P.C. nature of this year's Olympics, did not fare so well.
Veteran journalist and media executive John Moody was handpicked to join Fox News as a top executive before it launched in 1996. Earlier in his career, Moody was the Moscow and Paris bureau chief for United Press International. He then went to work for Time for more than a decade and served as the Latin America, and then Rome, bureau chief for the influential newsweekly. Moody is the author of four books, including a biography of Pope John Paul II. At Fox, Moody served as the executive vice president, news editorial of Fox News, where he was responsible for all editorial direction and story content for 13 years. In June 2012, after a three-year stint as CEO of Fox's Newscore wire service, Moody rejoined Fox News, "elevated" to the position of executive editor and executive vice president and reporting directly to FNC co-Founder and CEO Roger Ailes. In a June 2012 press release, Ailes said:
John's extensive experience in news for the past several decades both in television and in print remain unmatched in the industry. John helped us become the number one news network and I look forward to working closely with him again.
Screenshot of John Moody on Fox News, January 26, 2018.
Ailes was forced out at Fox News – the house that he and Rupert Murdoch built – in July 2016 following published allegations of sexual misconduct that Ailes, who died in May 2017, denied. In the wake of his boss's departure, according to Variety, Moody's "name got thrown around as a potential replacement for Roger Ailes." Before long, most of Ailes's top lieutenants resigned, were forced out, or left the news channel. Finally, in late February 2018, after hanging on for 18 months, Moody joined the exodus.
What was Moody's coup de grâce? It is not known for certain, but evidence points to blowback from an article Moody wrote that was posted at the Fox News website – briefly before it was unceremoniously removed – on February 7, 2018. Over the years, Moody occasionally wrote articles for Fox News dot com, and he had previously run afoul of the left, as in October 2008, when he wrote an article critical of Pennsylvania House Democratic congressman John Murtha, who had said – as Barack Obama was running for president – that "[t]here is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area." Moody is a native of that part of the state. As Moody wrote:
The congressman was sliming his neighbors, and me, because he thinks Barack Obama would be even further ahead in Pennsylvania were it not for racial bias on the part of the state's residents. Obama leads by 13 percent according to RealClearPolitics.com.
The title of Moody's 2008 article irritated the left: "Moody to Murtha: What a Jagoff."
Never a shrinking violet, on February 7, 2018, the day before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Moody wrote a column about the Olympics that was published at Fox News's website. The title was "In Olympics, let's focus on the winner of the race – not the race of the winner."
Unless it's changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics, since 1894, has been "Faster, Higher, Stronger." It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to "Darker, Gayer, Different." If your goal is to win medals, that won't work.
A USOC official was quoted this week expressing pride (what else?) about taking the most diverse U.S. squad ever to the Winter Olympics. That was followed by a, frankly, embarrassing laundry list of how many African-Americans, Asians and openly gay athletes are on this year's U.S. team. No sport that we are aware of awards points – or medals – for skin color or sexual orientation.
For the current USOC, a dream team should look more like the general population. So, while uncomfortable, 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? ...
If someone is denied a slot on a team because of prejudice, that's one thing. Complaining that every team isn't a rainbow of political correctness defeats the purpose of sports, which is competition.
Based on the immediate negative reaction to the article on the part of the left, you would think Moody had written a promotional flyer for the KKK. Within hours of its appearing online, Fox News's sworn enemy, David Brock's Media Matters for America, took aim in a slanted summary of Moody's article:
Moody decried the strides Team USA has made toward diversity of its athletes in a February 7 op-ed published on FoxNews.com. Though this is Team USA's most diverse delegation of athletes ever, as The Washington Post reported, the U.S. Olympic Committee still has a lot of progress to make: Out of 243 athletes, two men are openly gay, "10 are African American – 4 percent – and another 10 are Asian American. The rest, by and large, are white." Moody suggested without basis that the focus on diversity may cost Team USA medals, and speculated that athletes were given spots on the team that they didn't earn during their trials, because of their race.
Joining Media Matters were numerous other left-wing groups. Variety reported:
Three prominent advocacy organizations – including GLAAD, the National Center for Gay and Lesbian Rights and Human Rights Campaign – issued statements of complaint about the column.
The mainstream media also piled on. In the New York Daily News, Evan Grossman wrote about Moody:
A Fox News executive is either a screaming bigot or a complete and total buffoon. You decide.
On February 9, Fox News caved and removed Moody's article, which today can be viewed only in its archived version at archive dot org.
On February 9, Fox News also issued an unusual retraction, which was widely reported and celebrated by the mainstream media, including the Washington Post:
"John Moody's column does not reflect the views or values of Fox News and has been removed," the network said in a statement Friday.
Moody's unannounced departure from Fox News shortly after the retraction of his column – first reported by CNN on March 1 in an article co-written by Fox News archenemy Brian Stelter based on information reportedly provided by three unnamed sources – was described by a Fox News representative as his "retirement." Fox News representatives would say nothing more, other than confirming that Moody had left the network. Speculation abounded that there was more to it than that.
In a prescient article on February 9, the day Moody's Olympics article was removed and retracted, Variety reported:
Under [Roger] Ailes, Fox News almost never retracted a story. Indeed, when the news outlet in May removed a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, it marked a rare instance of the company spiking a news report in the course of more than two decades of operation.
Editors at FoxNews.com did not put the [Moody Olympics] column through the proper vetting process, according to a person with knowledge of inner workings at the network, which is why it was taken down. This person suggested Moody has not performed the duties of his title for several years. Moody's online bio says he is a vice president and executive editor for Fox News.
A handful of executives who had close ties to Ailes left the network after his departure in July of 2016.
Interested readers are directed to Moody's original February 7, 2018 article on the Olympics, archived here, for a fuller understanding before weighing in on the question: John Moody – retirement or forced departure?