Lightfoot says she would 'absolutely' exclude white journalists from interviews again

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would "absolutely" grant interviews only to journalists of color again after she drew waves of backlash earlier in the year when she announced the policy.

"I would absolutely do it again. I’m unapologetic about it because it spurred a very important conversation, a conversation that needed to happen, that should have happened a long time ago," the Democrat said on a segment of the New York Times's podcast Sway, released on Monday.

"Here is the bottom line for me: To state the obvious, I’m a black woman mayor," she said. "I’m the mayor of the third-largest city in the country. Obviously, I have a platform, and it’s important to me to advocate on things that I believe are important. Going back to why I ran — to disrupt the status quo. The media is critically important to our democracy. … The media is in a time of incredible upheaval and disruption, but our City Hall press corps looks like it’s 1950 or 1970."


In May, Lightfoot said the one-on-one interviews that mark the two-year anniversary of her inauguration would not be offered to white reporters. At the time, she said the initiative would foster diversity and inclusion to push back against the "overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets."

"By now, you may have heard the news that on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as Mayor of this great City, I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color," she said in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner. "As a person of color, I have throughout my adult life done everything that I can to fight for diversity and inclusion in every institution that I have been a part of and being Mayor makes me uniquely situated to shine a spotlight on this most important issue."

"I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically," she continued.

When Lightfoot was pressed on the subject and reminded of criticism from those who suggested politicians don't get to choose their coverage, she remained defiant and said the move was meant to resist "systemic racism."

"No, it’s not about me choosing who covers me, right? I gave exclusive interviews," the mayor said. "And we do get to choose who we talk to in exclusives. I gave exclusive interviews with journalists of color, right? One 24-hour period and it was like people’s heads exploded. I had journalists saying, ‘Does the mayor think I’m racist?’ No, it’s not about individuals. It’s about systemic racism."


Journalists in May railed against Lightfoot's move.

"I am a Latino reporter [at the Chicago Tribune] whose interview request was granted for today," reporter Gregory Pratt tweeted. "However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them."

Similarly, NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern told the Washington Examiner, "I expressed my outrage. Nothing has changed."

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Tags: News, Lori Lightfoot, Chicago, Race and Diversity, Journalism, Journalists, Racial Quotas and Preferences, Reporter, Media

Original Author: Jake Dima

Original Location: Lightfoot says she would 'absolutely' exclude white journalists from interviews again