On September 6, KARE 11 news anchor Jana Shortal appeared on television to cover the horrific end to the story of Jacob Wetterling, and was chastised for the clothing she chose to wear while doing her goddamn job.
Shortal was taken to task for her appearance in a column written by C.J., a columnist for the Star Tribune, who took the anchor to task for her “inappropriate” attire. The column, which was published Tuesday and has since been yanked from the site (a cached version lives here for now), focused not on Shortal’s reporting of the tragedy but dragged the news anchor for the disrespectful act of wearing skinny jeans, instead.
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 matter, downright jarring.
Gesturing limply toward the notion of a strange sort of propriety, where women reporting on serious issues must wear clothes that denote that seriousness, C.J. doubles down, stating that Shortal’s clothing was somehow so distracting that it took away from the gravity of the situation, even intimating that her choice of a pair of fucking jeans was disrespectful to the grieving 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. ascribes a lot of meaning for no real reason to Shortal’s choice of clothing, suggesting that the anchor’s sartorial choices were made by prioritizing looking “hip.” Certainly Shortal wasn’t just wearing the clothes she’s always worn. These jeans weren’t a statement or a thumbing of the nose at the establishment that requires women to fit into a predetermined notion of traditional femininity. They were her fucking clothes and completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, which was reporting the news on Breaking the News, the show that she co-anchors.
Being hip in skintight pants while discussing this story was unseemly, perhaps disrespectful. Many TV types keep a spare set of clothes around the station just in case what they are wearing isn’t appropriate for what they end up covering. Maybe Shortal doesn’t.
Because it wasn’t enough for C.J. to take Shortal to task for her clothing choices in print, the columnist also poked the bear on Twitter, in a tweet that clutches its pearls for no good reason, worded to seem like a genuine question when clearly, it is not.
In response to this entire debacle, Shortal responded in an emotional Facebook post that calls out C.J. for her bizarre attempt to change the narrative around one of the biggest tragedies in the state to a patently ridiculous argument that women should not wear skinny jeans when reporting the news.
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.
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.
To her credit, Shortal appears to be handing all of this like a champ. C.J., on the other hand is dealing with it like so:
Thank god Shortal has a fan base with the collective power and strength of Beyonce’s fans in her corner.