In attack on KARE reporter, Star Tribune columnist crosses the line

[5:34 p.m. — C.J. has issued the following apology]

A column I wrote and that was briefly published Wednesday has created a lot of anger and confusion among some readers. I want you to know that I’m sorry it hurt Jana Shortal and I have told her so. At the time, in my own sadness about the horribly tragic Jacob Wetterling news, I was trying to urge maximum respect for the family and that led me to comment on someone’s attire. In hindsight, that was a mistake and I understand the perspective of those upset by it.

[8:33 a.m. — This post has been updated to include Shortal’s response to the Star Tribune apology.]

Jana Shortal introduces a Breaking the News segment on KARE 11 on the discovery of Jacob Wetterling. Jana Shortal introduces a Breaking the News segment on KARE 11 on the discovery of Jacob Wetterling.

If ever there was a time for everyone to cut everyone else some slack, the last few days was it. Indeed, in the wake of the recitation in court on Tuesday of the last minutes of Jacob Wetterling, one could almost feel Minnesotans pulling just a bit closer, trying to shield themselves from the indecency and depravity of it all.

So the attack on Wednesday evening by Star Tribune gossip columnist C.J. — she never uses her real name — on KARE 11 journalist Jana Shortal because of her clothing while reporting the Wetterling story seems an indecency and cruelty all its own.

“She looked great from the waist up in a polka-dot shirt and cool blazer, but the skinny jeans did not work,” she wrote, saying that she heard the same thing from other “media types,” whom she did not name.

As the blowback erupted on social media, the paper took the unusual step of pulling the online column without offering an explanation.

(Update: Around 11:30 p.m., the Star Tribune posted on Facebook and Twitter that the column was pulled because it was “inappropriate, insensitive and did not meet the standards of the Star Tribune. We have apologized to Ms. Shortal and her station. And we apologize to you.”)

A screenshot of C.J.'s online column just before it was removed from the Star Tribune website. A screenshot of C.J.’s online column just before it was removed from the Star Tribune website.

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.

Edginess is the mandate of “Breaking the News,” but there is a line. Shortal has her defenders who are having their say on Twitter. To refresh memories, I have written flattering items about Shortal. Recent correspondents who have not been kind to Shortal have not found a compadre in me.

Shortal, who wears her heart on her sleeve, was justifiably upset, particularly with the suggestion that she was somehow disrespectful to the Wetterling family. She responded on her Facebook page.

On Tuesday morning I got dressed. The light on my porch woke me up. Jacob’s light, his sign, to come home. Sick to my stomach I got dressed. Dreading the day I got dressed. Knowing I would learn, with all of you, what really happened to Jacob Wetterling. I dressed. I prayed. I went to work. I kept my head down. I learned what happened to him. I prayed again. I went on the air. I did my best. I gave that newscast every single shred of hope and love I had for Jacob. For his family. And for every single one of you who was hurting. I left everything I had on that newsroom floor.
And today.
You took that away.
You made it about my pants.
You. You, whose name I will never write again.
You. You with the column I will not link to.
You. The bully with the keyboard who took this night, this story, and made into gossip about my pants.
Shame on you.
You suggest this: “I would think that hipness wouldn’t be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history.”
You are at least correct on that.
It wasn’t.
I wore my clothes. The clothes it took me a very long time to feel comfortable in no thanks to the bullies like you who tried to shame me out of them.
But have you no dignity, person with the name I won’t write?
You wrote about clothes in the darkest moment of Minnesota news history.

You wrote about jeans.

You were asked to create joy.
Help your neighbor.

You wrote about jeans.

You took the life out of what was meant to be a tribute to a life lost.

I won’t let you do that to me.
I’m going to create joy.
I’m going to help my neighbor.

I’m going to go turn my porch light on now.

And remember why I did that show the way I did it.

And I promise you, what I won’t remember, was the cut of my jeans.

C.J. dialed it up a notch on Twitter.


By then, most everyone had read the column, and the reaction was near universal in the condemnation.

Neither C.J. nor officials at the Star Tribune have yet responded to a request for comment.

[Update 8:33 a.m.— Shortal responds to the Star Tribune apology via Facebook.]

I have spoken with the Star Tribune and I accept the apology – I accept it. But this isn’t about me. It is about the blatant disrespect of the Wetterling family and our greater community. It is about the fact that our newspaper of record employs a woman who has for decades cashed a paycheck by bullying others.

The Star Tribune is sorry. But that woman is not. She continued with this line against me from 11:30 AM yesterday — until well into the night on her social media feed.

The solution here is to end her column. Give her a ‘re-assignment’ so she can keep her job if you so choose…but take away her bully pulpit. In 2016 there is no longer a place for this.

And this is not for me. I’ll be fine. It’s for all of us. We are better than this Minnesota. You are better than this Star Tribune. It’s time to give that byline space to something that builds joy. Not tears it down.

(h/t: Patti Spicer)

  • Matt
    • Patti Spicer

      I don’t live in Minnesota or subscribe to the S-trib, but I did some searching on “CJ” after seeing the controversy over this commentary. I’m now also wondering what what business her column has in being published in a NEWSpaper. It’s gossip column fashion nonsense, pretending to be news. The Internet is not amused.


        It was never news. It was always gossip. Every newspaper has one (gossip/talk of the town columnist). She went over the line today.

        • MamaMia

          Is that a Midwest thing? I’ve never seen a gossip column in my life in California, Washington, Arizona or Colorado. Thank goodness because that kind of mindless, petty, sexist, drivel in a “news”paper would annoy the hell out of me no matter where the people gossiped about were when seen by the “columnist”/bully. This case is especially vile, but really, didn’t anyone else’s mama teach them it’s not nice to gossip?

          • Perry Carter

            To my knowledge, this is the only type of ‘local’ gossip column I’ve ever seen a in a major newspaper here in the Midwest. Otherwise, yeah, it seems like these things are not really anything you’d see outside of LA/NYC/etc.

          • John Maddening

            Not at all — Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper made their careers out of it. LA and New York were where most gossip columns were based, for obvious reasons. Writing about the Starkey gala and the occasional movie in town doesn’t fill the column inches.

            She was giddy last summer with Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern in town shooting “Wilson”.

          • Ulricii

            Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper are the best you can do? I’m surprised you didn’t toss in Walter Winchell and Hayward Broun to make it a foursome.

            If MamaMia is under 85 she can’t be expected to have seen any one of them. She was writing about her newpapers, not her grandparents’.

        • Lois Donnay

          WHere is Barbara Flanagan when we need her?

        • Rachel Kahler

          Gossip columns were common back in the day. It used to be where you found out about your neighbors in small towns (they still exist in many of the small town papers that haven’t disappeared). In big towns/cities, it was where you learned about what the rich and famous were up to. Now, they don’t need a column for that, they just put it in the news.

      • stanson

        Ironically, there’s pretty much nothing to gossip about in the Twin Cities to begin with. That meant CJ had few subjects beyond Prince and the local TV news media. With Prince gone that of course leaves only the latter.

        Truthfully, nobody ever gave a hoot about the local TV people’s personal lives anyways.

  • Will

    Just one more reason to not read the gossip column.

    • MamaMia

      Or not to even have one. WTF purpose do they serve?

  • Patti Spicer

    This is a story that changed the childhood of my generation. Finally getting closure was a very special but painful experience for his family. I still can’t believe that it was sullied by fashion commentary. How heartless do you have to be to reduce this to what someone was wearing?

  • Tracy

    One bad apple spoils the whole bunch

  • Tracy

    One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

  • BReynolds33

    These types of columns, shows like Entertainment Tonight, Gawker… it never ends. I just don’t understand where the desire for this type of information comes from.

  • KTFoley

    File CJ’s recent column under “what people write about when they have nothing to say.”



    The StarTribune pulled the column. No statement. No apology.
    If someone working for me attacked someone else in the industry with such vitriol they would be summarily terminated. most likely has given the Star Tribune their last imagery.

    We will not be providing access to any graphics to the media outlet for the foreseeable future.

  • crystals

    This is so far over the line that the line is no longer visible.

    Jana’s response is fierce and beautiful, just like her.

  • KTFoley

    … and the news just hit Someone’s going to get all kinds of attention on a site that uses the f-word in its news analysis, so even though the comments are moderated CJ is likely to find out what people really think.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  • Paddy

    I mean the column was, was, complete dreck and utterly tasteless but so is 90% of what she writes. Same modus operandi as always.

    The lesson here is obviously don’t go after one of the Internet’s preciouses.

    • KW UST

      Saying that only 90% of what CJ writes is tasteless garbage is being AWFULLY generous.

  • Robinetta M. Garcia-Hrbek

    I am no fan of the Star Tribune now or in the past. I am a Pioneer Press person for life. One of the main reason I dislike Star is the consistent hiring of bombastic bullies who hide behind a fake name and write with the insensitive idealistic idea of what they think is edgy and important. I don’t giving a flying fig about Jana Shortal’s wardrobe or for that matter CJ’s opinion of it. My thing is the story, conveying of the story, the playing of the human spirit as we have grieved, mourned, and supported the Wetterling family for almost 27 years. Jana covered the story and did it well. CJ only contribution to the tapestry of the story is concerning a pair of pants. Grow up CJ being a bully is never fashionable and you should know better.

  • KTFoley

    Sometime before midnight, the Star Tribune apologized on its Facebook page;

  • Fred, Just Fred

    Wow. I don’t know any of the personalities involved here, so let me tell you from an outside perspective, watching the Wetterling story of primordial horror being eclipsed by this cat fight over a first world problem, and the resulting dissection of it by the on-line commentariat, is the very definition of Kafkaesque.

    By all means, carry on.

    • Ben

      ^ +1

  • BJ

    Surprised they pulled it. CJ did what she was hired to do. She has done a lot worse to people. Calling out a fashion choice is hardly her best hatchet work.

    I’ve paid more attention to CJ and Star Tribune today than I have in weeks, my last 3-4 Sunday papers have been thrown away unread.

  • ME S.

    I do not understand the need for a gossip columnist today. Gossip columns were replaced by the internet years ago.

  • mnbska

    Did seem a little jarring to me. What happened to somber clothing for somber news days? Maybe it didn’t warrant a gossip column, but I’m not 100 points over on one side.

    • Rob

      I don’t think of jeans as festive. The fact that Jana wasn’t dressed in mourning wear didn’t bother me; I was too busy listening to the story.

      • mnbska

        Eh, not really festive per se, but placing one’s individuality INTO the newscast has always, always bugged me. I don’t mind a little folksy banter after a light story about a skiing squirrel. But the progression into “she said WHAT?” like Fox does, or ten seconds of inter-anchor postulating after a clip, has only led to sentence-swapping on NPR’s Big Serious Terrorism Stories just to keep people’s attention. A murdered child deserves a sober, dead serious anchor in dark fabrics. If the newscast can’t provide the requisite solemnity, just do 30 seconds from the desk.

        I fully admit I’m grumpy and outdated. I have a media degree from way back when news was SACRED. It took its role dead seriously. Jeans on men OR women don’t belong in frame in a serious newscast.

        • It appears you didn’t watch Shortal’s performance on that show so your judging of her professionalism in telling the story betrays your degree.

          But here’s something else to consider. Why would exposed legs be considered “serious” attire but covered legs wouldn’t be? The undercurrent of all of this is the roles we assign women. We should maybe question why we do that.

          • mnbska

            I disagree, there’s a seriousness to attire that can be assigned independent of gender. This situation can apply 100% to men. A guy in tight jeans and a bright red plaid shirt would be just as likely to invoke public comment (and thus distract from the content). Exposed legs in a serious professional dress is subjectively, but inarguably, different than covered legs in casual jeans. Exposed/not exposed isn’t a good test here. Individualistic/recessive is the test I’m thinking of when broadcasting serious-as-F news, and believe you me I’m just as angry about showy male newscasters. The anchor is a conduit, not a person. Maybe her reading was perfect; unfortunately the jeans (and the decision of the director to show them) were a distracting choice. Put a man up there I’d say the same thing.

            You’re from MN? Do you remember that awesome commercial from some local news outfit with Ed Asner reprising his role as Lou Grant? He’s in the break room at a news station, lecturing a young reporter on that people “don’t want fluff. They want MORE news” as the kid is whipping up a capuccino with grated cinnamon. Then Ed Anser pours a black coffee and says “got it?” Kid says yeah, then Ed growls “good. Drink that and you’re fired”.

          • I sort of felt the same way when the church began allowing people to attend in casual attire. I changed my mind, though. We should examine our subjectivity.

            I wonder what the NY Times reporter was wearing today when he/she wrote that front-page story?

          • mnbska

            Did they do it on camera?

          • X.A. Smith

            You claimed you were done with this thread several posts ago.

          • mnbska

            So easy to jump back in with that false argument, though. But good point.

          • >> I’ll provide my final post of the day (which I made over on Kinja) before I move on.<<

            Yeah, "false argument"…

          • My guess is there are old timers who worked for NASA who think the people at SpaceX are “unprofessional” and “not serious.”

            What they don’t consider in their calculation is the possibility that they’re wrong.


          • mnbska

            Do they wear cute tropical prints as they shoot dead boys into space? False equivalency. When you deal in death and bad news, bring some slacks, do it from the desk, or zoom in. If this is seriously Bob Collins, I am disappointed.

          • I recommend pretty much that men get off the Internet today and go talk to women today about what it’s like to be a woman in a workplace.

            [It’s absolutely horrifying and shameful what they have to endure.]

          • mnbska

            Any response at all that addresses the choice of the entire studio crew to allow the Wetterling case to be recapped in a blue-jeans wide shot, regardless of sex, and without extrapolating to unrelated situations? Or is it easier to wind things up NPR style with a thought-provoking ten-second music bumper in place of the unexplored next question?

            What would be comprehensive is a file of opinions from a broad spectrum of professional empathy givers, especially women, before we can wrap this up with a cut-and-paste “file under feminism” answer. The gossip columnist many have been insultingly crazy, but she didn’t start with an invalid reaction. I’ll get heat for that position, because in the blogosphere the only safety is found behind holy cover-alls that keep the really hard conversations from happening.

            Enjoy the day!

          • It might be different, perhaps, if there was no context for a complaint about what a woman on TV wears or what she looks light. Being pregnant, for example,was once considered unprofessional, until — shockingly — recently.

            Others might remember the TV anchor in La Crosse who had to endure complaints that she was fat.


            And then there’s Christine Craft, who committed the sin of getting old.

            This is not a new thing. What’s new is someone is standing up to it.

          • Tim

            This isn’t even the first time CJ’s gone after women in local media for what they’ve worn or looked like. She’s done this for years. I am glad that Shortal stood up to her.

          • Justine Parenteau Wettschreck

            Being a female in the news business can be tough enough without the wardrobe issues, but I tend to dress for what I have planned for the day. And as anyone in the news business knows, what you had planned for the day is never really what you do for the day. So I keep more clothes in my desk. I’m glad standards have relaxed, because on days I’ve worn skirts and pumps to work, I’ve ended up standing on the side of a busy highway while watching a vehicle burn, trying to climb into the basket of a hot air balloon, crossing a newly plowed field, etc… Today I’m wearing jeans.

          • rallysocks

            Bob, I signed in using my stupid phone just so I could upvote and and reply to your comment. A bazillion times YES!

            I spend many weeks a year on a couple of big projects. After one particularly ambitious one, I wore a dress to the fancy dress portion of it that apparently was scandalous. I’ve worn that dress to work occasions, weddings, etc. with nary a comment, but for some reason this time, it was too much for someone. My male supervisor told me that I needed to ‘dress more conservatively’ because people were talking about my boobs. I have never felt so angry, marginalized and frankly, hurt. That all my hard work came down to my boobs is just appalling. And that my supervisor would NEVER say that to a male colleague makes me even more angry.
            As long as someone is neatly dressed, I don’t really give a flip what they are wearing, for the most part. Jeans, paired with a spiffy jacket are always acceptable. Obviously, some outfits are never to be taken seriously, but the sacrosanct suit & tie are becoming a thing of the past.

          • JamieHX

            I have really liked everything that Bob has said here, so I agree
            with your “a bazillion times YES.” However, I am not so enthusiastic about where your comment goes from there. I don’t know what your dress looked like or what your work culture is, but if people at your workplace noticed and were offended by what you were wearing to the degree that they complained about it, I am inclined to be more sympathetic with the complainants. A few colleagues might talk among themselves about a co-worker’s attire but they hardly ever make real complaints to a supervisor.

            This is not the same as the situation with the bullying CJ and the admirable Jana Shortal.

          • rallysocks

            You’re missing something here: I have worn this dress to this occasion before and it was perfectly fine. I know what our office dress code and culture is. This was a work event out of the office–where other females were also caught with having breasts. This was not a co-worker who made remarks, it was a guest who has complimented me on this dress previously. What this came down to was politicking–and it was an unwarranted and unjustified and marginalizing experience. Women should not be shamed because of our bodies, period.

          • JamieHX

            No, we shouldn’t be shamed. But we should also have the good sense not to wear provocative clothing at work or at work-related events. I don’t know your situation, but I work in a workplace like most others these days where many women seem to think they have the right to put their fully sexual
            selves on display with revealing and provocative clothing (some who dress provocatively may just be clueless or not self-aware) and that the rest of us have to shut up about it. Sex doesn’t belong in the workplace, despite what we see
            on tv news, comedies, dramas, etc. It causes lots of problems. Perhaps someone felt they couldn’t say anything about your attire before but they found the courage to do so finally.

          • rallysocks

            Well, gee whiz! Thanks for that helpful advice…I don’t know how I got to the advanced age of 52 and professionally employed for the last 20+ without it! And again, the dress was FINE. I dress according to the dress code. The occasion called for a cocktail dress, which I and nearly every female were attired in. Making a snide comment about my breasts was all they could level at me, because the project exceeded expectations. That’s what makes me angry. Also, condescension…not a big fan.

          • mnbska

            Here Bob, out of respect for your past work, I’ll provide my final post of the day (which I made over on Kinja) before I move on. Maybe it will resonate with you as a professional.

            “The equation is that news reporters and funeral directors both serve public roles as caretakers of ill tidings. They have a solemn duty to guide us through troubling times. It’s what they went to school for. Reporters spend years training for the big chance to break bad news to a lot of people, in fact as many people as possible. Their career wish and sole job is to show themselves and be taken seriously as they say serious things. Undertakers play in the same arena, as well as Army officers who trudge up sidewalks and nurses who administer rape kits. When you play in serious matters, people notice when something is out of place. Is it fair? Not really, but it’s also not too much to ask.

            I’m not twisted out of place about it. But having heard last breaths 2 feet from my face, I’m not about to soothe the anchor’s [or studio crew’s] feelings just because they couldn’t pull into a tighter shot. Sexually assaulted boy/statewide trauma/cold case murder solved —-> pull on the slacks or zoom in.”

          • I don’t know what Kinja is.

          • mnbska

            Another place to endlessly argue on the Internet. it’s the commenting platform for the former Gawker media group, and I think it also provides a commenting platform for some other sites. It’s more volatile and angrier than Disqus, but if youre feeling masochistic…

          • Fred, Just Fred

            How might history have remembered Walter Cronkite if he been wearing love beads and fringe vest while Breaking the News of Kennedy’s assassination?

            How might we have remembered our parents if all they had talked about the next day was what Cronkite was wearing, pro or con?

          • Or a flak jacket while telling us Vietnam was a lie.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            Flack jacket would be appropriate if he was reporting from a bunker near hill 881S. Wearing one in the studio would be stepping on Geraldo Rivera’s toes, resulting in a boxing challenge.

          • I’d pay to watch that. Even in Walter’s current state.

          • Rob

            News is not a funeral and it isn’t a KIA notification. If the undertaker at my mom’s funeral had worn jeans, we’d have had a conversation.

          • Fred, Just Fred


          • He teared up while delivering the news. That was a poignant moment and the fact he let down the standard of professionalism of the day was actually rather soothing, as I recall. But I was only 9.

            Walter was something. Shameful that he was forced to retire.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            You bring up an interesting (to me) thought.

            I was still a gleam in my father’s eye when Kennedy was killed. But Cronkite’s honest performance, if I can call it that, gives us a “living” record of the visceral reaction the nation had. I can feel the anguish all these years later.

            Would I, and everyone else that revisits the event through the video record be able to experience the profound shock and sorrow if Cronkite was was dressed in the hipster fashion of the day? Maybe. But I firmly believe it would be a diminished experience. Cronkite’s credibility and power was earned through the seriousness he applied to his work, not the least of which was reflected in the way he dressed.

          • I don’t know if I’ve ever been sadder than that weekend.

            The thing about the way he dressed is : back then, being on TV without a jacket was pretty shocking stuff too. Nobody noticed, of course. TV “consultants” hadn’t yet been created.

          • Rob

            He was too busy working on one of the most tragic stories of modern times to worry about whether he had his suit coat on or not. Props to him.

          • Jay Sieling

            Quite a variety of comfortable clothes at NASA and JPL:

          • Rob

            I’m not sure where the notion developed that a suit and tie were necessary to deliver the news. A suit and tie just doesn’t say gravitas to me. And when male newscasters are required to bare their legs, I’ll quit thinking of newsroom requirements that women have to wear dresses as being sexist.

          • mnbska

            Oh and BTW, my degree isn’t betrayed by judging what’s on screen. A news degree includes an entire semester on choosing what appears in frame. Unless you mean betraying my degree in that it shows, in which case thanks for the compliment, I took my studies in news very seriously until Fox came along and Trump-ified the credibility that the media took years to build, and replaced it with “look at me! keep looking!”.

          • Rob

            I took my media studies seriously until all the major broadcast media shilled shamelessly for the Iraq War.

          • stellabystarlite

            To betray in this sense is to expose. Or reveal.

        • Ben

          I think mnbska has some good points here. I also think that CJ was out of line with her commentary. I don’t know, am I being a hypocrite?

          • mnbska

            I think the two can coexist. They’re not really opposed.

        • Rob

          To take your argument to its logical conclusion, newscasters should have to wear identical, loose-fitting dark-colored uniforms and wear identical masks so that no one can accuse them of causing distractions, or of bringing their individuality into the newscast. Sorry, I ain’t buying it.

          • mnbska

            An argument needn’t be taken to its extreme to be valid. The opposite could be said for nude newscasters or clown outfits. I’m fully aware, however, that I strongly prefer a hardnosed, factual and conclusive newscast delivered by either totally blank talking heads (news) OR frothing and well-spoken advocates (editorials). In either case, the personality should be recessive in favor of the facts being reported or the position being taken. But I admit that my preferences strongly bias what I think is right. It’s not an immoral position so I’m keeping it. Thanks for the reply, though, sincerely.

          • Keep in mind, the name of Jana’s show is BREAKING The News. It is designed to be unconventional in form and format. She wasn’t doing a KARE newscast per se.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            I see that, and you’re right. In this example I don’t think it was necessarily in poor taste. But what I’m reading here is people taking the argument afield; suggesting that what you wear isn’t relevant to the job you do. We’ve read the stories about millennials showing up to job interviews wearing sweat shirts and jeans; unless you’re shooting for a job at Starbuck’s that is delusional.

            Even today there are standards of professionalism. I don’t expect to see my doctor wearing a wife beater and Chuck’s; there is a reason people with neck tattoos don’t get hired to sell fine jewelry.

            I’m digressing. I guess my real beef, if I have one, is that the important issue, Jacob Wetterling’s brutal last hours, has taken a back seat to outraged virtue signaling. Looking back, your original story about the confession by Jacob’s murderer didn’t get half the comments, but make a crack about a woman discussing on TV it while wearing skinny jeans and all hell breaks loose. smh…

          • canofcorn66

            I don’t have a horse in this race, but I want to commend you for your commitment to making a nuanced point in a respectful and honest manner. Too often people are afraid to investigate the grey areas that truly make up our lives, and wind up yelling about extremes. Thank you for avoiding both.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            Maybe logical to you, but to folks that understand rational argument that is known as Reductio ad Absurdum, a particularly transparent logical fallacy.


          • Rob

            Gosh, that hurts. From now on, I’ll’ leave the use of transparent logical fallacies up to you. Run with this: “All leftists are…”

          • Fred, Just Fred

            Thanks, I don’t smoke.

          • Rob

            It might help.

          • Fred, Just Fred
          • Rob

            Gotta do your smoking elsewhere, Basket Guy, as FAA regs prohibit smoking on aircraft.

          • theoacme

            That would require, to take your point to its logical conclusion, the Office of the Handicapper General (h/t, Kurt Vonnegut)…

            …the HG may already be at work, considering CJ is certainly not fit as a newspaper reporter, so she naturally works at a major metropolitan one…Sid Hartman’s continued employment seems to be HG-mandated, too…

  • Anna

    It appears America wants to bully by proxy. I don’t know if there is a recognized diagnosis for that sort of behavior but there should be. Passive aggression doesn’t come nearly close enough.

    Proper decorum and social filters disappeared with Facebook, SnapChat,Twitter and texting.

    CJ hides behind a fake name and a fake picture like so many online bullies do. I believe in everyone’s right to free speech but not when it causes needless emotional trauma and mental anguish.

    I think I liked America better when there was no Internet. At least we had to do our bullying up close and personal.

    • Jerry

      I don’t think you can blame the Internet for this one. It’s a newspaper columnist talking about a television reporter. CJ has been doing her thing for a long time.

    • Kassie

      For someone who doesn’t like the internet, you spend a lot of time commenting on this internet blog. And you do it anonymously without a picture.

      • Anna

        Kassie is that your real name and picture? I don’t have a recent picture to post and Bob allows you to post as a guest as long as you use your real name.

        I never said I did not like the Internet. I said I liked America better BEFORE the Internet.

        • Jerry

          Nothing worse than having all the world’s knowledge at my fingertips

          • Anna

            “A little knowledge can be dangerous thing.”

          • Jerry

            Are you trying to make my point?

          • Anna

            I think we are getting off subject.

            Enough said.

          • Jerry

            Well obviously. This story has very little to do with the Internet.

        • Kassie

          Yes, Kassie is my real name. And Jerry is Jerry’s real name. And Bob Collins, the moderator, knows me, my last name, and knows how to get a hold of me because I also use my real email address.

          And I’m not crying about people hiding behind false names on the internet, you are.

    • John Maddening

      It’s not a fake name or a fake picture. It’s a nickname (her full name is Cheryl Johnson) and an old picture, but certainly not fake.

      It doesn’t make her any less of a bottom-feeding fame-grabber, though.

  • Gary F

    Oh, C.J. still writes at the Star Tribune? Except for this one, because it was on News Cut, I haven’t read her column in at least tens years, or more.

    And they wonder why people don’t read the Star Tribune anymore.

  • Guest


  • black_dontcrack

    I’ve always thought CJ was a troll and rarely read her column because although this seems inappropriate…it’s what CJ does. It’s her standard operating procedure. Over the years she has said countless mean and cruel things about people in the Twin Cities. This is nothing new for her. It’s not a new low. She’s running true to form. So I find myself wondering…why the backlash now on this scale? And I mean past the obvious reasons given, because I just can’t make sense of why the Star Trib would pull her column on this, when they’ve run countless mean columns from her in the past about people that have to walk the streets every day.

    • MamaMia

      Gross. So glad I live somewhere where gossip isn’t considered news.

      • Fred, Just Fred

        So, how are things on Mars these days?

  • MamaMia

    No wonder “CJ” hides behind a fake name. Only a heartless, brainless, petty, nincompoop would write such drivel.

  • Angry Jonny

    Much in the way that burned out old buildings are demolished to make room for new construction, I think trashy gossip columns such as CJ’s are ready to be eliminated in favor of more constructive or useful newspaper real estate.

    • Rob

      I totally agree. I never understood the interest in gossip, especially when it’s often so mean-spirited, or in this case, downright savage and off the wall. Gotta go – I’m off to make a call to the Star Tribune.

  • MrE85

    I think today might be the day the Star Tribune realizes it doesn’t need a gossip column anymore, especially one written by this particular columnist.

    • John O.

      I’d be willing to bet that C.J. and Sid (not sure of the order) would be the number 1 and 2 most recognized names from the Strib. I’ll also bet that there is a person watching their page views going bonkers over this as the proverbial pot is stirred.

      With that said, I tend to agree with you. It will also be interesting to see if this affects her KMSP gig at all.

      • ironkitten

        Affect her gig on a Fox station? Doubt it.

    • MikeB

      The column has been running for a long time. If no one read it the column would have been eliminated a long time ago. Perhaps the frustration is with the readers, and the gap between people saying they want news and then clicking/reading the trashy pieces.

  • William Harris

    CJ has always been a most disagreeable reaction to most things. Similar to what one experiences after a late night stop at White Castle.

  • Ben

    Frankly, I’m surprised so many people actually care what CJ has to say. I guess, ultimately, she got what she wanted.

    • People care because CJ isn’t the only one who focuses on what women wear rather than the job they do (keep in mind she attributes her criticism to others in the media). Women get that. This is a good day to listen to the women who have been trying to tell men FOR DECADES why people should care. The fact they do is a feature, not a bug.

      • Patti Spicer

        Thank you, Bob. I couldn’t have said it better. Someone call me when there is an article about ties that are too short.

      • Ben

        I was referring to what CJ has to say about anything, regardless of the subject matter. CJ usually tries to say mean hurtful things, I’m guessing because she thinks she’ll get attention, everyone seems to want to hear about that stuff. You’ve pointed out that she is one of the most visited columns at the Strib, so obviously I’m wrong. But I’ve made it a habit of not rewarding that behavioral with my attention.

  • Kassie

    Prince wrote a song about CJ. It starts like this:
    What if I called U silly names
    Just like the ones that U call me?
    What if I filled your eyes with tears
    So many that U cannot see?

    He also says her name toward the end. Worth checking out.

    • Teresa

      She’s hurt so many individuals. Prince’s tears…….

    • Kristi

      Again–Prince was ahead of everyone. Billy Jack Bitch indeed. Time to catch on Strib and jack up your standards.

  • StribAlum

    I’m surprised after so many years that people don’t know the woman’s name: CJ – Cheryl Johnson. For many years her office was right next to the Strib’s ombudsman … saved that wonderful gentleman all that walking around the newsroom whenever he needed to pop-in and talk to her about a complaint. Of course the Strib hasn’t had an ombudsman in years … or very many copyeditors (same with so many newspapers today). I’m wondering what the Strib’s standard ARE today, if – after the public dust-up about the story – they finally pull it and then post on Twitter/facebook that the column was “… inappropriate, insensitive and did not meet the standards of the Star Tribune.” So how did it get published in the first place? Where was the editor that she reports to?

    • Lou Gelfand.

      I miss having an ombudsman at the Strib. Those columns were fantastic.

      My favorite though was when Kate Parry took Sid down.

      [edit to add: By the way, in the interest of full disclosure: A lot of radio newspeople don’t use their real names. We call them by the name they wish to be known by.]

      • StribAlum

        Yep – Lou was a wonderful gentleman, a real pro. His work gave a reader (and an employee) such confidence in the newspaper. His columns were a real “go-to” item for me. The man, and the position itself, are sorely missed, and much needed.

      • Mike Worcester

        Lou’s columns were required reading for me. He was fearless with a capital “F”. There were a couple occasions I called him (he answered his own phone!) and asked questions about coverage and such and he was always firm but polite. You may not have always liked the answer he gave, but you sure as heck should have respected his work ethic.

      • >>A lot of radio newspeople don’t use their real names. We call them by the name they wish to be known by.<<

        We know that…Kevin…


  • Al

    Jana Shortly is literally the only reason I watch any local news. Literally.

  • Brian Simon

    I’ve wondered for years why CJ continues to be employed there, while decent columnists have moved on. I suppose that drivel is what the public wants, though it’s certainly not what we need.

  • chlost

    It doesn’t matter to the Strib what the readers’ reactions are to this. What will matter is what the advertisers’ reactions will be to it. Any word of advertisers pulling their $$?

  • ub01

    Neither the StarTribune nor the Pioneer Press have their publications under control. I’m not surprised that the papers of age are becoming history. It’s a good thing people have alternatives nowadays. Shout out to MPR News. Some folks think M/NPR is biased, but at least they don’t pay bullies and give them a pulpit.

  • Lisa

    Thank you, Bob Collins for this report. And thanks to Jana Shortal for telling it like it is!

  • Lillis Gjertson

    Jana Shortal is a feisty, truthful, loving, compassionate reporter who has every right to dress as she wants, not in accordance to the dictatorship of an over-the-hill Trib person—-and the stories she reports on are done tastefully no matter what she wears-shame on you CJ-glad I canceled that paper long ago-I hope we have Jana around for a long time-she is finally getting the recognition she deserves

  • Jeff

    After reading the comments, seems like some are quick to condemn the internet outrage machine, but then they can’t help ourselves. Just sayin.

  • Bee

    CJ, just like other entertainment journalists (oxymoron), has spent a career in part providing assumptions and criticisms about public ppl. This was especially crass and in poor taste re JS delivering news on the Wetterling tragedy. I wonder if the response would be the same if JS were covering something else. Was CJ offering a veiled criticism of JS’s slim frame, alluding to an eating disorder? There are a myriad of metabolic, genetic issues (food allergies, hyperthyroidism, lipodystrophy, pancreatic insufficiency etc) plus lifestyle choices (intense running, no carb diets) other than an eating disorder that make you rail thin. If I was on TV (which in reality and in TV convention – aka Fox’s Foxes – would not happen), an asshat might assume I was pregnant, addicted to food, or drinking too much beer (all rec’d criticisms), but you don’t know about my lifelong endocrine disorder. Assumptions and criticisms of ppls’ looks are lazy, easy pickings, and a terrible, hard reality of life/work, more so now than ever in a questionable-veracity, viral world.

    • Patti Spicer

      I think the backlash in this specific incident is from CJ turning a family’s pain into a gossip article about “OMG, she wore what”? She took the focus off of the family and put it on herself. But you make a great point — all too many articles (and careers) are made on judging the dress, appearance, and body types of people (ok, let’s be honest … WOMEN). We need to stop it. No one looks at the average male and judges his worth by whether his tie is aligned with his belt buckle or whether he has the proportions of a WWE wrestler.

  • holmespaint

    Thanks Bob, very well said.

  • Angry Jonny

    Actually, this only helps confirm my suspicion that CJ is just a nom de plume for Pat Reusse.

  • AllisonK

    Jana is an intelligent and fierce journalist who exemplefies professionalism. She is everything “C.J.” is not.

    Personally, I ADORE Jana’s unique personal style (I am 51 years old), and applaud her for shattering the “Barbie doll” motif of most journalists & newscasters—how I wish I had a female role model like her when I was a child! It would’ve saved me a LOT of misery, feeling like I didn’t fit into society because I was “weird”…

  • Glen Perkins not subscribing to the Star Trib is an underrated burn.

    • Dan

      On himself, shows he can’t figure out his way around their pathetic paywall.

  • Dan

    I wonder if adding a spinning bow tie to the outfit would change the conversation.

  • Fluffy Singler

    I have never liked CJs column and I agree, there is no need for such a column in 2016. I can’t believe the Star Tribune even feels the need for a gossip column about “celebrities” in the Twin Cities. Quoth Peter Griffin: Who the hell cares?

  • johnnyg08

    Nice piece Mr. Collins. I couldn’t agree more with you on this one.

  • taryale

    I watched Jana’s story and didn’t even notice what she was wearing. I just thought she was very eloquent in her reporting

  • SheilaE

    I would LOVE to look like Janna. She is young and hip, and fit! Something you are not, CJ. (PS-how does it feel?)

  • Oly78

    Jana has more class in her little finger than “she who will not be named” could ever hope to have. Her ugly article said far more about her than it ever did about Jana.

  • Dan Feidt~hongpong

    whenever i need to explain to anyone the peculiar realities of Minnesota’s media bubble I will be able to refer to whatever bizarre moral concern trolling is going on around this. Passive Aggressive to the max, it should be crafted in butter and parked at the State Fair. People have way too much time on their hands

  • Opinionated

    I had never read this CJ column before. I never will again. How dare she? Must really be a sad and ugly individual. Maybe she’ll be unemployed soon. But probably not. Too many people in this world don’t care.

  • Patti Spicer

    Apparently she’s sorry that her article “hurt Jana” and she “understands our perspective on it”. What she basically said is: “I’m not sorry for writing the article, but I’m going to post a lip service apology putting the blame on Jana for being hurt and and the rest of the world for calling me out out as having no class because I still think I did nothing wrong”. When someone is really sorry, they say “I’m sorry that *I* hurt you”; they don’t apologize that their creation hurt someone. The latter puts the blame on the victim.

    How about “I’m sorry that I ever posted this article. As a gossip columnist, it never occurred to me that focusing on someone’s wardrobe, which is what I do for a living, would take the focus off of the Wetterling family and their grief in the way it did. I was clearly wrong. I promise that going forward I will carefully consider what I write and the impact that it has on the the subjects of my articles as well as the community.”

  • Maria

    What she was wearing should have NEVER BEEN brought up in the first place, especially during the most difficult times for the Watering family! What she posted about what she was wearing, I find this SO selfish, and and disrespectful, to an ALL- TIME LOW, EVERYBODY! SHE REALLY DISGUSTS ME! I’m just glad I’m not related! I feel bad for the ones who are! Ugh!!

  • Mike

    So, a newspaper gossip columnist, whose job it is to write about trivial things, makes a less than complimentary comment about a particular TV news person – an event that under normal circumstances would be largely overlooked and forgotten before the print was dry on the paper. In turn, said TV news person posts a cloying, self-absorbed response on social media and suddenly the pointless sniping of a 3rd-rate gossip columnist becomes an “outrageous personal attack” and people turn out in droves to add their manufactured outrage. Two reactions: Nobody really cares what issues from the keyboard of a 3rd rate gossip columnist. Nobody. Second, if this whole thing “isn’t about me”, as the TV news person insists is the case, then why is she spending so much time telling us it isn’t?

    • Confessions

      Because CJ made it about her. And she’s standing up for the original story, the purpose and the intent of reporting the news. CJ made the news about Jana.

      The news is not about Jana.

    • Can you tell us about the time you met and got to know Jana? That must have been interesting.

      • Mike

        Nice one, Bob – points for being smug but are you really suggesting that it’s not appropriate to comment on the situation or question the motives of someone’s actions unless you know them personally? Wouldn’t a policy like that put people like you out of business? Oh, wait…I’m starting to see the wisdom in your words…

        • You made some conclusions about people. I’m trying to ascertain the quality of the foundation of your point.

          Do you know? Or do you think you know?

          It’s OK if you don’t really know and you’re making a guess. I simply want to know the extent of your expertise behind your conclusion.

          BTW, NewsCut has just set a traffic record in each of the last three month including this one, smashing all previous records in its nine-year history.

          • In terms of “no one really cares,” there’s no evidence of that. Quite the opposite, actually. The story has resonated with people nationwide for a reason.

            In the few cases where people have dismissed it as no big deal, it’s always men. Only a few men, but it’s always men.

            What is it that women see here that men have a hard time seeing, do you think?

          • Mike

            Sure, Bob, even though you’ve taken my words out of context (I didn’t say no one cares about the ongoing story, I said no one cares about what issues from the keyboard of a 3rd rate gossip columnist) I’ll take a guess. My guess is that CJ’s readership is pretty dang small and that on any given day her irrelevant and meaningless words go largely unnoticed. This “story” would never have risen to the front page if the wounded party had simply dismissed them for what they were – pointless words written by someone who gets paid to write crap. Instead, the wounded party takes offense and cries foul via social media which exponentially increases the audience while framing the whole thing as a personal attack and a disservice to all Minnesotans who care about the Wetterling case. People like you, Bob, take up the torch and continue to sensationalize and perpetuate the story because it’s got all the right elements, a villain for your readers to direct their offense at, a party who’s been wronged, an injustice that must be made right. It’s low hanging fruit for a slow news day. Then you congratulate yourselves because the story you’ve blown entirely out of proportion “resonates” with people.

          • You’ve spent a lot of words and time invalidating what people are feeling, but you’re not really offering a logical explanation for why you can’t accept the possibility that they have a legitimately held belief from a perspective neither one of us can have.

            You say nobody cares what CJ writes, but clearly they do and it doesn’t appear they do so at gunpoint, forced there by social media and bloggers.

            You call their interest “manufactured outrage”, which is intended to dismiss the concerns as illegitimate that people are attempting to point out, I think, sincerely so.

            I think it’s great if you personally don’t think what Shortal experienced, and what other people say they’ve experienced… and the symbolism represented by C.J.’s column isn’t important to you. That’s fine. Clearly we understand that some people — mostly men — don’t see a big deal. But why is it exactly that you so clearly invalidate their opposition to the column based on yours?

            Why you seem to be saying it’s not important to anyone else when it so clearly is? What is it that prevents you from acknowledging the foundation of their outrage, let alone that their outrage is legitimately and sincerely held even if you believe it to be incorrect?

            Women are trying to tell people how this particular column has affected them and they do so in many cases from a position of personal experience. What is it about the experience of these mostly women that seems to prevent you from acknowledging their experience and their sincerity when , particularly, as a man, you — and I — have no ability to say that this perspective is illegitimately held? (This is the same sort of response we see, for example, in many protests about structural racism in which a person of color’s perspective on what it’s like living in the world as a person of color is dismissed as not real or accurate by those who not only benefit from a status quo, but who cannot possibly say with accuracy that a person of color’s perspective isn’t real. To do so in both cases would then require a confrontation of the actual issue. Better to just declare a perspective illegitimately held ).

            If you look back at your comments so far, every single one involves impugning motive. That usually comes from some predisposition on the issue of the treatment of women in the workplace that predates C.J.’s column. What is it?

            I think if you investigate more, by the way, you’ll find that C.J.’s column actually is one of the most popular columns in the paper and also one of the most trafficked pages on its web site. That might sound like an opinion. It’s not. It’s actually a pretty important fact

          • Mike

            You’re killing me here Bob. What conclusions did I make? I offered an opinion. I posed a question. I made no reference to anyone’s “character”.

          • So when you use the “nobody” — twice — in concluding the significance of the story. YOu don’t really mean “nobody”, right?

            You really meant “I”. Isn’t that correct? Because otherwise, how do you explain all the people who are saying they do care?

          • Mike

            You’re a slippery one, Bob. I used “nobody” (twice) strictly in reference to the words of a gossip columnist – not in reference to the significance of the story. I suppose there are people who confuse gossip columns with real news. Maybe you could use your influence to set those people straight.

    • Laurie K.

      Wow, I don’t know what post you read from Jana Shortal that was a “self-absorbed” response, but clearly it was different than the one that I read. The post I read talked about how a report about a family’s loss turned into a trite, petty commentary about jeans.

      • Mike

        Well, there’s this: “Sick to my stomach I got dressed. Dreading the day I got dressed.
        Knowing I would learn, with all of you, what really happened to Jacob
        Wetterling. I dressed. I prayed. I went to work. I kept my head down. I
        learned what happened to him. I prayed again. I went on the air. I did
        my best. I gave that newscast every single shred of hope and love I had
        for Jacob. For his family. And for every single one of you who was
        hurting. I left everything I had on that newsroom floor.”
        Using the word, “I” 15 times in one paragraph – a wee bit much don’t ya think? Making sure we all know that “I left everything I had on that newsroom floor” is a cry for attention and approval even though it’s wrapped in a tired old cliche. And there’s this;

        “And today.
        You took that away.
        You made it about my pants.
        You. You, whose name I will never write again.
        You. You with the column I will not link to.”
        It sounds like she’s casting old C.J. as Voldemort in the movie that plays in her head. The whole thing is ridiculous.

        • She’s telling HER side of the story. It’s first person. What pronoun should she use?

          The reason she says it’s not about her isn’t that she’s saying what C.J. said wasn’t about her. When she says it’s not about her, she’s pointing out that this happens to women all the time. What happened to her personally is every woman’s story.

          That’s why HER story is resonating. Because every woman has a story just like it.

          And far too many men are saying, “no, you don’t.”

  • Anne Charles Siperek

    Never heard of either one of them til today. I’m from Jersey, living in Florida now. This reporter Jana looks nice and respectable to me. This CJ broad is something else all together. Let her move to New York or LA and try her catty style of reporting. She sounds like a 15 yr old mean girl. Someone, (OK, me!) should ask her why she wears her hair like that, Is she trying to look white? She looks fake…meow..

  • Maria Lieske

    Omg! I really can’t believe people would go out of their way, and be selfish enough, to bully a reporter like that out in the publics view, to see and hear! Especially at a time when I personally remember meeting Patty Wetterling all those years ago! She came up to me in the West St. Paul Parade, and asked me if I wanted to be a part of her campaign by volunteering for her, and I was SO excited, ofcourse I shouted a big YES!! to her in the crowed with excitement, shook her hand, she told me where to meet her at, and I volunteered! I did the phone work, and while I was doing that, she asked me if I had done that before? And I said yes, why? She said, because I can tell you’ve got experience in doing this sort of thing! And we both laughed if off! Since then, I’ve had nothing but great respect for Patty and her family, and for that bully to do something like that, is just wrong!!!