Christian groups will gather Friday afternoon for a demonstration and prayer vigil outside the headquarters of ESPN over their disapproval with how the television network has responded to the anti-Jesus remarks made recently by one of their anchorwomen.
Though news anchor Dana Jacobson has been temporally suspended for one week for her Jan. 11 tirade – which reportedly included “F*** Jesus” – many Christian groups feel that ESPN has been slow and reluctant to claim responsibility.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue noted that when late sportscaster Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder made disparaging remarks about blacks during a 1988 interview, he was immediately fired by CBS.
"It is obvious, then, that neither Jacobson nor ESPN is dealing with this matter in a professional way," Donohue said in a released statement.
The Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, which plans to lead Friday’s demonstration, also holds a similar view and believes that there is a double standard in the media towards Christians.
"Imagine the outrage if Ms. Jacobson said, 'F*** Mohammed,' 'F*** Jews,' or 'F*** African Americans,'” he said in a released statement. “We would simply ask that the parent company of ESPN, ABC, treat this incident the same way they did when Isaiah Washington publicly used the word 'fag' when referring to a cast member. A week suspension is simply not enough and sends a message that ESPN tolerates this kind of behavior and speech."
Jacobson made her anti-Jesus remarks during a Jan. 11 roast in Atlantic City.
She was reportedly intoxicated during the incident, talking vulgarly about Jesus and a colleague’s alma mater, Notre Dame.
The Press of Atlantic City described Jacobson during the incident as “… swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor.”
Both ESPN and Jacobson have apologized for the incident.
“Her actions and comments were inappropriate and we've dealt with it," ESPN spokesman Josh Drulewitz said.
Jacobson also released her own statement.
"My remarks about Notre Dame were foolish and insensitive. I respect all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by my poorly chosen words," she explained.
Despite the apologies, some Christians are not yet ready to put the incident behind them.
“Although the faith community can forgive and extend mercy to Ms. Jacobson, she still must assume full responsibility and accept the consequences for her hate-filled rhetoric," Mahoney stated.
Jacobson, a graduate of the University of Michigan and co-host of ESPN's “First Take,” joined ESPN as a regular news anchor in 2002. Per her suspension, she has not appeared on TV this week.
Friday’s demonstration outside the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., was scheduled to begin at noon.