Kersten Watch: The scoop behind the new mug

Did CP swipe prompt photo swap?

This week has been a particularly revealing one for those engaged in the gawker slowdown known as "reading Katherine Kersten's fledgling columns in the Star Tribune."

On Monday, she displayed a touching sensitivity about a 10-year-old who plays in a Minneapolis youth baseball league, despite the fact that he has one arm. (Actually, according to a clarification in the paper, turns out the kid has two arms. But one is deformed, so whatever.)

As some have noted, Kersten didn't even divulge the purpose of the column--a variation on the pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-booststraps conservative mantra--until the last paragraph. Here's to progress.

Thursday, she told the tale of a Minneapolis lawyer who helped an immigrant from Cameroon keep her hairbraiding business afloat in the face of heavy levies owing to a lack of a state cosmetology license. The neo-con lesson here was that government regulates the darndest things, but it wasn't hard to read the subtext: Hey, I like black people! And immigrants! See?!

It was enough melt a critic's heart.

But that was before word spread of Kersten's darker behavior in the newsroom. It all goes back to a Blotter post about Kersten's debut column a month ago, which remarked that her online mughsot vaguely resembled the witch from the Wizard of Oz.  Two weeks later, The Blotter noted that Kersten's column carried a new mug online. Speculation was that the paper was perhaps trying to soften her image.

Turns out the new shot was demanded by Kersten herself, who had taken the jibe a little too personally. (And who wouldn't? You don't see any of our pugilist mugs uglyin' up the paper for a reason.)

At any rate, the photo swap became a source of laughs for staffers in the newsroom when word spread that Kersten was urging the paper to put her better face forward.

The original item that subsequently appeared in City Pages "literally compelled her to get a new foto for her column," one Stribber e-mailed last week. "She opened a can of whoop ass on the online editor about it, too."

Kersten's colleagues wonder if there might not be further photo shoots in the future, to get the right image just-so. If that's the case, might we suggest that Kersten revisit the Cameroonian hairbraider

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