Star Tribune deletes, apologizes for C.J.'s awful column about Jacob Wetterling and Jana Shortal's jeans

C.J. tried paying attention to Jana Shortal's work, but couldn't get past her jeans.

C.J. tried paying attention to Jana Shortal's work, but couldn't get past her jeans.

Here’s the hot journalism gossip this morning, gang.

Someone at the Star Tribune wrote a column that was so offensive and indefensible, the whole thing got scrubbed from the newspaper, and the editors are disavowing themselves of their writer’s work.

It’s gossip, rather than news, because this morning, you cannot find the abomination of a hot take longtime Star Tribune columnist C.J. wrote on the newspaper’s website. It's gone, and the paper says it's sorry.

This might not be enough.

The backstory: C.J. was watching KARE 11 anchor Jana Shortal do a segment on her Breaking the News media television show, and she decided she didn't like Shortal's jeans. That's it. 

C.J. realized she needed to tweet these thoughts about Shortal, calling out the anchor's wardrobe choices as she reported on the tragic news about Jacob Wetterling, the long-missing Minnesota boy whose remains were finally discovered this week, thanks to his kidnapper and killer Danny Heinrich's confession. 

The story gripped the nation... with the exception of C.J., who couldn't get over Jana Shortal's jeans. She decided to turn her tweets into a whole piece.

Here's what the gossip columnist wrote:

Somebody at KARE 11 didn’t do Jana Shortal any favors with that wide camera shot on Tuesday’s “Breaking the News” while the show examined the tragic details surrounding the murder of Jacob Wetterling.
She looked great from the waist up in a polka-dot shirt and cool blazer, but the skinny jeans did not work. I was among a number of media types who found them inappropriate and, given the gravity of the day’s subject, downright jarring.
On Twitter I asked Shortal if she wished she’d worn different pants: “IDK what my clothing has to do with covering the tragedy of Jacob’s death. My only ‘wish’ on Tuesday was for Jacob’s family.”
My thoughts are also with the Wetterling family. While I cannot imagine they’ll want to read or watch every media take about the horror they have been living, I would think that hipness wouldn’t be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history.

 C.J.'s "take" here is truly thought-provoking. The thought it provokes more than all others is: What the fuck is this shit?

This also seems to have been the reaction from her editors, who quickly distanced themselves from this heaping dung pile of a gossip column.

Within hours of its appearance, the Star Tribune (owners of City Pages) had removed C.J.'s entire piece from its website, explaining that decision with a tweeted statement of apology. 



And that would be that, were it not for the magic of screengrabbing, plus the instant (and justifiable) outrage that followed C.J.'s awful column. "A number of media types," as C.J. might have it, are already crushing her, Minnesota Public Radio and Jezebel among them.

More than one observer have noted the irony that C.J. writes for the very same newspaper that welcomed Shortal's own explanation of her offbeat style. In an op-ed piece titled, "I'm a TV newswoman, and no thanks on the lady uniform," Shortal wrote:

Last fall KARE 11 gave me a permission slip. It’s a new show called Breaking The News. Our mission? Tell stories differently. Do things differently.
During the six months we rehearsed the show off-camera, I found myself coming into work wearing my own clothes, the kind of clothes I wore in my “real” life.
And I starting wearing my hair curly — that’s how it naturally rolls.
As the date of the show’s launch approached, I started thinking: Maybe I can break more than the news. Maybe I can break the mold of what a woman on television is supposed to look like.
And so, on the eve of our very first show … I still wasn’t sure. Could I really button my shirts up all the way? Could I really rock a pocket square? Could I really, really be myself?

 Answer, from the vast majority of Minnesotans: Yes, sure. Do you, Jana. 

Dissenting opinion, from one bitter gossip columnist: No. Be someone else. 

Maybe now's not a good time to point this out, but we just can't help ourselves, gang: C.J. looked terribly inappropriate for her job last night. Someone at the Star Tribune didn't do her any favors letting her drape herself in this kind of sexist bullshit. Not that it's her first offense at tone-deaf observations about women in television. Hardly

C.J.'s opinion is the worst of a bygone era, judging (and shaming) a woman in the spotlight simply for how she dressed -- competence be damned -- without any of the discretionary wisdom that's supposed to come with age.  

Charitably, C.J. wasn’t questioning fashion, so much as  timing.

Was the moment of the Jacob Wetterling story the right time to sport jeans? "Skinny jeans," even?

We might ask the same sorts of questions of C.J.: Was a serious news report of the Wetterling tragedy the right time to question what someone was wearing?

Or of the Star Tribune: Is now the right time to be paying C.J. to write for your newspaper?