Fargo TV reporter arrested on suspicion of drunken driving


WDAY-TV reporter Kiersten "Kay" Cooley was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Minnesota on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Forum News Service reports.

The 25-year-old Cooley was pulled over around 5:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 10 just west of Lake Park, Forum says, after a citizen's complaint; a breath test showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.19. The legal limit in Minnesota is 0.08.

An assistant administrator at the Becker County Jail tells BringMeTheNews that Cooley was released at 4:41 a.m. Wednesday "when she was sober."

WDAY-TV – which is owned by Forum Communication – declined to comment, but did air a story about the arrest.

One Facebook user asked the station about that choice on the WDAY Facebook page.

"If it were just a regular citizen getting this, you wouldn't air it and make a story out of it ... why is it different for her?" the user wrote.

Another user responded, speculating that public figures usually get more scrutiny. Indeed, news reporters, who often cover DUI charges against public officials, tend to get more scrutiny when they themselves face charges.

A similar incident reportedly led to the ousting of Rusty Gatenby from KSTP earlier this year. The station let the longtime traffic reporter go in February, shortly after his Jan. 28 arrest on suspicion of DUI. When the news came out, he told the Star Tribune's C.J. he was very embarrassed by the situation, and that he’s had a “clean record” his “whole life.”

He also noted to C.J. that “right now, I haven’t been convicted of anything.” He's since joined Tom Barnard's podcast network.

In the winter of 2011, a video of former KEYC Mankato news anchor Annie Stensrud went viral after an awkward on-air segment, in which many people speculated she was drunk. Shortly after she was arrested on suspicion of DWI, and in the summer of 2012 was sentenced to probation. She did not work for KEYC at that point, and afterward maintained she was not drunk on the air.

And former FOX 9 reporter Beth McDonough was let go from the station in 2008 after a second drunken driving arrest, the Star Tribune reported. Four years later she was back as a local TV talent, hired by KSTP as an investigative reporter – where she currently still works.

Cooley, a Northwestern University grad, has been with WDAY since September of 2012. She got attention from the Washington Free Beacon this past winter, which highlighted her work covering the region's fracking jobs and a Mitt Romney rally.

She also got an on-air introduction from Ron Burgundy (actor Will Ferrell) when he visited the station in December.

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