ESPN's silence is deafening

Published 2:57 am Monday, February 4, 2008

By Staff
Through the history of broadcast journalism, there has been no shortage of people who have put their foot in their mouth - Jimmy the Greek, Fuzzy Zoeller, Don Imus, Dana Jacobson …
What's that? You've never heard of Dana Jacobson? Indeed, you haven't. And the reason you haven't heard of Dana Jacobson is because her employer (ESPN) has orchestrated a cover-up that would make even the federal government jealous.
Here's the story. On Jan. 11, the House of Blues in Atlantic City, N.J., hosted a celebrity roast of ESPN radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic - more commonly known as the duo “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” The roast was identical to most roasts, with comedians and friends alike coming on stage to tell jokes about Golic and Greenberg.
It was apparently all in good fun until Dana Jacobson, a co-host of ESPN's “First Take” morning program, came on stage. According to a story in the Press of Atlantic City, “Jacobson made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor … she was booed by the crowd.”
A lot of people who are drunk end up making fools of themselves; that's just par for the course. What is particularly interesting is that several eyewitness accounts have said Jacobson's commentary included the unprintable phrase “f- Jesus.”
This is where the cover-up comes into play. ESPN, which has previously devoted entire days of programming to previous controversial statements from Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus, is nowhere to be found in the Jacobson story. Even more distressing, it looks as if the network is trying to pretend the event never happened.
Let me make this clear. I have no issue with what Jacobson said. This country is built on the First Amendment, and I am willing to give her even more leeway because the setting was a roast and she was intoxicated. My major issue is there seems to be a double standard in how ESPN - and other media - covers controversial issues like this.
If Jacobson had said made the same comment toward African-Americans, gays or any other number of religious or minority figures, the outcry would be enormous. Mel Gibson was pilloried for his drunken tirade against Jews, and the fact he had been drinking was not used to excuse his words. Jimmy the Greek was drinking and off-air in a restaurant when he made his infamous comments about African-American athletes - comments for which he was ultimately fired.
Yet when an ESPN personality gets up in a public setting and uses the crudest of words to excoriate the world's most practiced religion, the outcry is nowhere to be found.
Jacobson is perfectly free to say whatever she wants, but when there is no accountability for her statements, you have to wonder about the objectivity of entities like ESPN.
Jacobson's comments were like a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it. And ESPN is trying to make absolutely sure that tree doesn't make a sound.
Justin Schuver is news editor of The Andalusia Star-News.

Email newsletter signup