ESPN Won't Release Video of Host's F-Word Rant

July 7, 2008 - 8:06 PM

(CNSNews.com) - ESPN is refusing to release video of anchor Dana Jacobson's comments at a sports celebrity roast held nearly two weeks ago in Atlantic City, N.J. -- comments for which she received a one-week suspension.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, wants to know why. The video, he said, would confirm exactly what the popular co-host of ESPN2's "First Take" actually said at the Jan. 11 event.

"We know that Jacobson said 'F*** Notre Dame,'" Donohue told Cybercast News Service. "What we don't know is whether, as reported on some Web sites, she also said 'F*** Jesus' at the event. If she did, then that changes everything."

If Jacobson did say, 'F*** Jesus,' then Donohue thinks the broadcaster deserves far more than a slap on the wrist.

"It is one thing to use an obscenity to rip a Catholic university, quite another to use the vilest of terms about Jesus," he added. "If she didn't, then all they need to do is make the video public -- put it on YouTube. If she did, then it looks like we might be dealing with a cover up."

ESPN, which admitted Wednesday it had suspended Jacobson for one week, also said it had no plans to release video from the event.

"Her actions and comments were inappropriate, and she's been disciplined," ESPN Vice President of Communications Mike Soltys told Cybercast News Service.

The comments, Soltys said, came during a roast held in honor of two ESPN Radio personalities - Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic - held at Atlantic City's House of Blues.

Jacobson, a University of Michigan grad, made derogatory comments about Notre Dame football and the university's famous "Touchdown Jesus" - the nickname of a huge mural of Jesus with upheld hands that overlooks Notre Dame's football stadium.

Soltys confirmed that a video of the event exists. But he wouldn't confirm that Jacobson was being disciplined for referring to Jesus:

Cybercast News Service
: She made the comments (as reported) about Notre Dame?

Soltys
: Yes.

Cybercast News Service
: About Touchdown Jesus?

Soltys
: Yes

Cybercast News Service:
And about Jesus?

Soltys:
No.

"She was spouting off about Notre Dame football, in an inappropriate way," he added. "She wasn't making comments about the church."

Jacobson herself released an apology - "I am very sorry. My remarks about Notre Dame were foolish and insensitive. I never meant to offend anyone. I respect all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by my poorly chosen words. I also deeply regret the embarrassment I have caused ESPN and Mike and Mike.

"My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I really am. I have personally apologized to many of the people involved. I won't make excuses for my behavior but do hope that I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment," she added.

Notre Dame, for its part, has accepted the apology.

"While we in no way condone Miss Jacobson's comments, we're aware of the circumstances in which they occurred, and in the interest of forgiveness, trust that she and ESPN have addressed the matter in appropriate way," said Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for news and information at the university.

But Donohue however, said he doesn't plan to let the matter drop. He wants to know exactly what was said.

"One way or the other, we are going to get to the bottom of this," he added.

Make media inquiries or request an interview with Pete Winn.

Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Pete Winn.