The "ESPN Jesus" ad that initially raised concerns by the sports network for not adhering to political or religious guidelines of its viewers, was reconsidered for airtime. ESPN reviewed a commercial from SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo. to air during Saturday's NCAA basketball game and rejected the ad because the words "God" and "Jesus" were contained in the commercial. Christian Post reports Dec. 16 that once political pundits and Christians expressed outraged by the decision, ESPN reversed its decision. FOX News' talk show host, Bill O'Reilly, and former Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin, voiced their disapproval of ESPN rejecting the ad.
This is what CGCF's ad read for the ESPN ad containing the words "God" and "Jesus":
"At SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the season of giving, bringing hope to the many children, parents, and families that we serve. Our patients are filled with hope as they receive a message each day from the treasure chest beneath our tree of hope. Help us reveal God's healing presence this Christmas. Send your message of hope at Glennon.org."
Dan Buck, vice president of CGCF, was told by ESPN that the 30-second ad was rejected because it was "problematic." ESPN's advertising guidelines state that the network will deny "political or religious advocacy, or issue-oriented advertising."
The CGCF was"disappointed" by ESPN's decision, but accepted it. As a result, they made another ad that was more acceptable by the network's guidelines. That version of the ad was aired on ESPN's website then later changed to the original ad they first rejected.
"We have again reviewed the ads submitted for the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and have concluded that we will accept the original requested commercial," ESPN wrote in an email to The Christian Post. "This decision is consistent with our practice of individual review of all ads under our commercial advocacy standards."
This sudden change of heart over the "ESPN Jesus" ad controversy is believed to have occurred due to political pressure in the media. The network's view of the ad was a complete turnaround from their original statement. Usually this type of reversal isn't made without some type of pressure from powerful groups or people.