Covering Her Beat


C.J. is well known for her prickly--some might say tacky, others might say merely annoying--on-the-clock behavior. I tend to think of her as the Sid Hartman of local TV news coverage: Been doing it forever, bullies people into talking, and is a total suckup to power.

(Sid, by the way, wrote an absolutely amazing column a few weeks back about how he singlehandedly brought the Lakers to Minnesota in the late 1940's, and how it was really he who was running the team as the general manager spent all his time vacationing in Hawaii.

And when I went to Minneapolis Tribune editor Gideon Seymour and sports editor Charles Johnson and told them that the area could get its first major league sport and that Chalfen and Berger weren't going to be interested unless I was a part of it, they said to go ahead, but don't write about the Lakers. Max Winter was brought in as general manager, but everybody knew I was involved, and since Winter spent most of the winter in his Honolulu home, I ran the team.

Score-settling with some dude who's probably been dead for 30 years. Honestly, it's like the most amazing thing ever.)

C.J., like Sid, takes her beat seriously. Unlike Sid, whose books are ghostwritten and whose columns are choppy at best, C.J. seems to be something of an actual writer.

To wit: When the biggest story on her beat in decades went down--the summary firing of the most celebrated local TV news personality of the last twenty years--she was there first to break it (noting that Paul Douglas' name had been taken off the WCCO website's masthead), and then to follow up with a funny, revealing, and forward-looking piece on the man himself.

Douglas said that when Black Monday first happened, his and Laurie's first reaction was: We're moving.

Then they got "stuck in a massive two-hour traffic jam on the Washington beltway after landing at Dulles, and took it as a sign," he wrote.

"We both love to travel, but Minnesota will always be our base, where we hang out most of the year. Too many friends, too many business partners, too good a work ethic, weather far too interesting for me to ever leave again."

Basically, the point here: C.J. wrote a nice column.

It should be said, for the purposes of full disclosure, that I may be biased: When I was in probably third grade, Paul Douglas came to my school and gave a speech to the gathered assembly. Afterward, he took questions. Someone asked him what they should do to get to where he was.

"Honestly," I recall him saying, "and my bosses would be furious if they knew I was telling you this, but read a book."

I've had a soft spot for him ever since.

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