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Come Saturday Morning: #pointergate, or KSTP Strikes Again!

KSTP-TV is the local ABC affiliate here in the Twin Cities, and the flagship station of Hubbard Broadcasting, as right-wing a crew as can be imagined outside of Sinclair and FOX. The Hubbard family has been entwined with the state’s Republican power brokers for decades, and KSTP has long been involved with right-wing talk radio.

Knowing all of that, it’s not surprising that KSTP would, through the hack Jay Kolls, try to further the agenda of some Minneapolis cops who don’t like Minneapolis’ newly-elected Democratic mayor, Betsy Hodges, with the silliest attempt at race-based dog-whistling demonization I’ve seen in quite some time:

Getting their picture taken above is the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, with Navell Gordon, a young volunteer from the respected Twin Cities charity, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.

To better understand the context, please take just one minute to watch the beginning of the video below. Pay particular attention at 0:32-0:39 as Navell and Mayor Hodges share a clumsy “how do we pose in this photo together” moment.

Imagine, then, the shock, utter disappointment, and disgust when the local ABC news affiliate, KSTP ran a news story on Thursday night claiming that Mayor Hodges dangerously flashed a gang sign with a known criminal and has put officers in harms way.

KSTP’s “evidence”? The unsupported ravings of a few former and current cops who don’t like the current mayor and who are probably not too crazy about the current Chief of Police, Janee Harteau — who by the way was at the NOC event too.

Why would these current and former cops wish to undermine the mayor, an excellent activist group, or their own chief? Why would they collaborate with KSTP on a smearjob so badly botched that it’s rapidly made KSTP the laughingstock of the local media, the national media, and of the Twitterverse?

Would it be because of the promises of reform made by both the mayor and the chief? Would it be because of the concrete actions already taken towards reform, such as having cops wear bodycams — to clean up a PD that is notorious for coddling “thumpers”, “Metro Gang Strike Force” shakedown artists, and other bad apples?

This isn’t the first time KSTP’s stepped on a rake journalistically. In 2011 it lost the biggest defamation case in Minnesota state history when it was forced to pay out $1 million to its victim, Susan Anderson. And in 1995, the station ended two years of litigation with Expertech, a small appliance repair firm in Richfield, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, with a large cash settlement after it ran a story smearing the repair shop.

Will Pointergate (or rather, #pointergate) finally bring KSTP to heel? Probably not — if having to shell out a cool million to Susan Anderson didn’t make KSTP straighten up and fly right, nothing can — but it will ensure that the call letters “KSTP” live in infamy for some time to come. (Especially on Twitter.)

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