Columnist Turns Child's Tragic Death Into Story About Jeans

Says it's 'unseemly' for reporter to wear jeans during story on Jacob Wetterling
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2016 2:32 PM CDT

"I gave that newscast every single shred of hope and love I had for Jacob," KARE's Jana Shortal writes on Facebook. "You made it about my pants." Shortal reported on the final moments of 11-year-old kidnapping and sexual abuse victim Jacob Wetterling's life on Tuesday. The next day, the Star Tribune ran a piece by gossip columnist CJ (she doesn't use her real name) titled "Shortal flubbed fashion statement during Wetterling report." According to City Pages, CJ took issue with Shortal's "skinny jeans." "I was among a number of media types who found them inappropriate," City Pages quotes the now-deleted column as saying. "I would think that hipness wouldn’t be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history."

While CJ called Shortal's outfit "unseemly" and "perhaps disrespectful," many more people thought those words better described CJ's column. Minnesota Public Radio called the column "indecent" and "cruel." Jezebel says Shortal was "chastised for the clothing she chose to wear while doing her goddamn job." And City Pages accuses CJ of "judging (and shaming) a woman in the spotlight simply for how she dressed." The Star Tribune itself, in a tweet apologizing to Shortal and readers, calls the column "inappropriate" and "insensitive." In her Facebook response to CJ, Shortal writes she was focusing on Jacob and wearing what she always wears, but "you wrote about clothes in the darkest moment of Minnesota news history." (Female television hosts told to lose weight or lose their jobs.)

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