A lot of people — myself included — are having fun with “Pointergate,” the fiasco about Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges allegedly flashing gang signs started by not-always-very-subtle partisan hacks over at KSTP television news. Just about everything surrounding this story borders on the absurd, but it nonetheless raises some serious issues that should concern us.
I’m not talking about the sloppy and sensationalized reporting over at KSTP. After all television news is more opinion and entertainment than journalism these days and KSTP aspires to be some form of Fox-light. No, Jay Kolls, the reporter who “broke” the story, has taken enough heat and frankly I’m not sure he deserves it.
Briefly, the scandal arises from a picture posted on Facebook by Navell Gordon, a local Minneapolis man who has in the past been in trouble with the law. Gordon had been out canvassing with Mayor Hodges last week and posed in a photo with her. In the photo Gordon and Hodges point at each other, the alleged gang sign. Harmless enough. In fact, this should be a good story about a man turning around his life and trying to do good. Unfortunately it has devolved into “Pointergate” and worse.
Critics are “ganging up” — no pun intended, I’m sure — on KSTP and reporter Jay Kolls, however the story was brought to their attention by law enforcement officials. In Kolls’s story, John Delmonico, president of the police union, criticizes Mayor Hodges, asking “Is she going to support gangs in the city or cops?”
Retired Minneapolis police officer Michael Quinn is quoted saying “The gangs are going to use this picture to show that they’ve got the mayor’s support.”
That’s where the outrage should be. We have the police jumping to conclusions based on a picture taken in the context of a story about which they seem to know nothing. Or don’t care. That’s worrisome, isn’t it?
Kolls could have been a bit more thorough and thoughtful. If he had, he might have seen the real story here, the negative knee-jerk reaction from the police. But he didn’t. People should be talking about this, but they aren’t.