After months of denying and ignoring the persistent problem of anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, Fox News displayed a newfound concern for employment discrimination - against religious conservatives.
On the February 4 edition of The Real Story, Fox host Gretchen Carlson hosted a "faith panel" consisting of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the 700 Club's Wendy Griffith, and American Atheists' Amanda Knief to discuss a new report from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation showing a correlation between religious freedom and economic performance. The panel delved into matters of religious views in the workplace, with Carlson suggesting that in the U.S., Christianity is no longer "allowed always as it was in the past":
CARLSON: Many people in the United States feel like in recent years in, there's been some sort of - well, that Christianity hasn't been allowed always as it was in the past, and that there seems to be some sort of attack on it, whether you believe that or not.
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation doesn't link to the report on its website, although a summary in the Deseret News indicates that the report merely finds a correlation between improved economic outcomes and the loosening of religious restrictions, as in post-Maoist China. There's nothing in the summary pertaining to alleged religious discrimination in the U.S., of which Carlson didn't cite a single example.
Carlson's purported concern for workplace bias is noteworthy, given that it comes after Fox News has long been silent on anti-LGBT employment discrimination - a real, existing problem - or portrayed legislative efforts to combat it as a threat to religious liberty. After the historic Senate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in November, Fox News devoted a grand total of 19 seconds of coverage to the vote.
In the run-up to the Senate vote, Fox correspondent Shannon Bream spread falsehoods about the bill's impact on religious employers - whom the law explicitly exempts - while Carlson dismissed ENDA as a "distraction" from issues like Obamacare.
To the extent that they even acknowledge anti-LGBT employment discrimination exists, Fox personalities have defended it. Host Bret Baier suggested that being gay was a "belief" that may conflict with a company's goals, while Bream and commentator Todd Starnes have defended anti-LGBT workplace discrimination on "religious liberty grounds" - part of Fox's continuing campaign to conflate Christianity with anti-LGBT bigotry.
What's particularly ironic about Fox's simultaneous defense of anti-LGBT discrimination and ostensible concern for maximizing economic growth is that discrimination against LGBT employees is disastrous for businesses' bottom lines, generating thousands of dollars in turnover costs, harming recruitment efforts, and exposing businesses to costly lawsuits and legal penalties.