To quote the ESPN star (or not)

touchdown jesusAs you would imagine, I have received a fair amount of email lately about ESPN anchor Dana Jacobson's profane performance at the Atlantic City, N.J., roast for Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, better known as the "Mike and Mike in the Morning" duo. This story continues to bubble on the back burner. Some of the comments have been very predictable, with people divided a bit on whether ESPN should fire Jacobson. Here's a chunk of a report that sums of this angry response:

... Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Thursday called for picketing and a prayer vigil outside ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters. ...

"ESPN has to step up to the plate here. Imagine the outrage if Ms. Jacobson said, 'F--k Mohammed,' 'F--k Jews,' or 'F--k African-Americans.'

"We're simply asking 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," Mahoney said. "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."

And so forth and so on. This angle of the story did not interest me all that much.

However, I was interested in the fact that it was hard to find a mainstream press report that actually told you much about what happened and, for example, what she actually said. This was the rare story where it was "conservative" to quote the profane facts -- of a censored version thereof -- and "mainstream" to leave the readers guessing in the dark.

Thus, the Associated Press wrote:

Jacobson's speech included obscenities aimed at Notre Dame, with Irish football coach Charlie Weis in attendance. An article in The Press of Atlantic City the next day said that Jacobson "made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor as Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment." She was booed off the stage.

In a statement released through ESPN, Jacobson called her comments about Notre Dame "foolish and insensitive."... Jacobson's speech included obscenities aimed at Notre Dame, with Irish football coach Charlie Weis in attendance.

Meanwhile, people willing to veer over to alternative, conservative news pages could read passages such as this:

Jacobson's Jan. 11 tirade against Notre Dame football at a sports celebrity banquet reportedly not only included "F*** Notre Dame!" and "F*** Touchdown Jesus!" -- but also "F*** Jesus!"

Even Baptist Press issued an editor's note warning and let readers know what happened, while softening the blow somewhat:

A profanity-laced tirade earned ESPN anchor Dana Jacobson a weeklong suspension from her duties with the sports network.

According to various reports, an intoxicated Jacobson reportedly hurled a string of "F-word" insults aimed at Notre Dame, Touchdown Jesus and Jesus Christ Himself during a Jan. 11 roast in Atlantic City, N.J., for ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, of the ESPN radio show "Mike and Mike in the Morning."

So what's the point? I do think that it's safe to say that the fallout at ESPN from this event would have been much greater if Jacobson had shot from the lip at another religious group other than a traditional form of Christianity. Some targets are safer than others.

However, the question that is more interesting, for journalists, is whether the story would have received greater play in the mainstream news media if she had aimed at some other group. And would more journalists have quoted the remarks more clearly, to help people realize just how far she went at that podium?

One more question: Does anyone know how the late-night comics handled this?

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