Newscaster Jana Shortal was called out by Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist C.J. for wearing skinny jeans while covering the Jacob Wetterling case, in a story that the paper has since taken down
In a column that the paper has since taken down, C.J. says Shortal’s outfit was “inappropriate” considering the topic.
“She looked great from the waist up in a polka-dot shirt and cool blazer, but the skinny jeans did not work,” C.J. writes. “I was among a number of media types who found them inappropriate and, given the gravity of the day’s subject matter, downright jarring.”
“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.”
C.J. immediately received backlash for her statements, from Shortal, the Star Tribune and on social media, where she continued tweeting her thoughts on the outfit.
“Do you wish you’d worn different jeans/pants @janashortal on Tuesday’s Breaking the News which dealt mostly with Jacob Wetterling’s death?” C.J. tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” Shortal responded.
Shortal posted an extended response to C.J. on Facebook, where she refused to use the columnist’s name.
“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,” Shortal writes. “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.”
On Thursday morning, the Star Tribune editors took down the story, and posted a note to readers.
“We briefly posted a column that criticized KARE’s Jana Shortal for her appearance while reporting on the Jacob Wetterling story. The piece 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.”
Shortal’s outfit is her typical on-air uniform, a reflection of her personal style. She wrote about her struggle adhering to the “lady uniform code” of newscasters in a first-person article for the Star Tribune, and explained how she finally decided to dress as herself on her show Breaking the News.
Shortal says she was hesitant to wear her real clothes up until the morning her show premiered, when she found out that David Bowie had died.
“So in homage to Bowie – but really in homage to the girl I was, the girl I kept shooing away – I got dressed. In my own clothes. Not in the uniforms I had collected, but in the pieces that made me feel like me. And I went to work,” she wrote. “It only took 16 years of working in TV news – and Bowie – to teach me the simplest truth: I had the answers in my closet. I just had to come out of it.”