January 28th, 2008 08:00 EST
ESPN does not deny Dana Jacobson said, 'F--k Jesus'
Washington, Jan. 28/Christian Newswire/ -- After a lengthy meeting with the Christian Defense Coalition, ESPN executives will not deny that Dana Jacobson said "F--k Jesus" or a similar expression at an ESPN event.
The Coalition continues to call for ESPN to release the video tape from the event or a verbatim transcript of exactly what Jacobson said.
ESPN also confirmed they do not believe that any insensitive or discriminatory religious speech took place and that Ms. Jacobson was suspended for "her behavior" and not for anything that she said.
So, it appears that using the term "F--k Jesus" or a similar expression in the workplace by an ESPN employee does not merit suspension or discipline.
The Christian Defense Coalition met for over an hour with Mike Soltys, Vice- President of Communications for ESPN, and Steve Anderson Executive Vice- President for ESPN, on Friday January 25.
Although the group commends ESPN for the extended dialogue and the professional conduct of their representatives, it still believes that ESPN does not "get it" when it comes to workplace religious discrimination and hateful speech regarding faith.
The Christian Defense Coalition still maintains that if Ms. Jacobson used the term "F--K Jesus" or a similar expression, ESPN must release her.
National Faith and Values leaders are planning another meeting with ESPN executives later this week to see what the next step should be regarding this controversy.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, comments, "After meeting with ESPN officials for over an hour last week, it is clear to me that they are still in the 'dark ages' when it comes to workplace religious discrimination, bigotry and hate speech. There are several reasons why I feel this way. First, ESPN could end this controversy in a minute if they would just release the video tape of what Jacobson said or an exact transcript. Their refusal to do so demonstrates a lack of openness, good faith and candor which is necessary for true dialogue and healing to take place. It is painfully clear that they are more interested in protecting the corporate image of ESPN and avoiding actions taken against them, than they are in having a meaningful exchange on religious discrimination in the workplace.
"Of course the question must be asked; what is ESPN hiding?
"What makes the refusal to release the video tape even more troubling is how ESPN is using it in an attempt to manipulate and influence the truth. On one hand, they are implying that Dana Jacobson did not say what was reported that she said (F--k Jesus). But they refuse to say what Ms. Jacobson did say even though they know what her exact words were. They cannot continue to imply that she did not say something like 'F--k Jesus' and suggest the faith community is overreacting and getting upset over nothing without being totally truthful with the public.
"ESPN is also implying that the faith community should not be upset because Ms. Jacobson was suspended for a week showing that the network is treating this episode seriously. However, over and over again in our discussion with them, ESPN made it clear that Ms. Jacobson was not fired for her speech or comments she made. She was disciplined only for her behavior. In other words, ESPN does not believe any offensive or discriminatory religious language took place.
"No wonder they will not release the tape.
"So, at ESPN an employee using the term 'F--k Jesus' or a similar expression in the workplace does not merit discipline or suspension. As we have said all along, if Ms. Jacobson had said 'F--k Mohammed,' or used the 'N' word or the term 'faggot' in the workplace, she would have been fired immediately.
"ESPN would not commit to our suggestion of co- sponsoring an open town hall meeting on religious tolerance in the workplace. To the best of our knowledge, in their 30 year history, ESPN has never sponsored a seminar or dialogue on religious diversity or tolerance. To ESPN: we invite you to come out of the dark ages and into a culture of openness and pluralism concerning faith.
"The ball is now in ESPN's court concerning what the next step will be for the faith community. We hope they choose justice, candor and tolerance."
For more information or interviews call:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 202, 547.1735 -- Cell: 540.538.4741