“There’s doubling down, there’s tripling down, and then there’s what KSTP is doing,” Corey Hutchins writes today in the Columbia Journalism Review concerning the ongoing refusal of the TV station to understand why its story — dubbed #pointergate — is being so widely condemned by other journalists.
He provides a timeline of the controversy, which doesn’t reveal much new about the controversy other than to solidify the unusual stance by the TV station to stick to its “the mayor flashed gang signs” angle on evidence that doesn’t quite reach the level of “thin”.
Hutchins says Stan Hubbard, KSTP’s boss, pushed back again in the face of condemnation of the story this week by the Society of Professional Journalists.
For his part, Hubbard told me he wrote the SPJ, of which he said he is a member, a “stinging letter.” He clearly feels besieged—angry at the rest of the media, and bitter about the mayor, who didn’t talk for KSTP’s initial story, and whom he blames for “stirring up” the angry response. I asked if, had she had spoken to the station at the outset, they might not have run the story at all.
“I don’t know what she would have said or what she could have said that might have changed it,” he said. “It’s very possible.”
But now, Hubbard is very comfortable with his station’s reporting. And his position, he insists, is bolstered by local public opinion.
“I’ve gotten wonderful phone calls from black leaders saying ‘Good for you,’” he told me. “We just did a major study—we wanted to find out the public reaction—I haven’t got the number exactly, but it’s something like 65 or 70 percent of the people don’t care one way or the other. But interestingly, of those who are aware of the story, 52 percent of black people say, ‘Good for you, right on.’” (I didn’t get details of how the study was conducted.)
He also read me a letter that had been written, he said, by a young black school girl whose grandmother works at the station, and who had been learning about #pointergate in social studies. “We know that the man did a gang sign, but I didn’t learn that in school,” the letter read, in part. Hubbard told me the girl learned it “on the street.”
Hubbard added that he also personally looked up gang signs on Google, and he found one that looked just like what the mayor was doing.
“It may be an uncomfortable story for some people, but we vetted it very carefully,” he insisted. He is, clearly, dug in on this.
Meanwhile, in an email to a spokeswoman for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges this week, KSTP reporter Jay Kolls, who did the original story, suggested there’s been a spike in gang killing in Minneapolis since the infamous “point.”
(The email was part of a release of emails under an MPR data request)
(Update: Here’s the direct link to the post referenced in the e-mail. h/t: David Brauer)