Chicago's Mayor Lightfoot proclaims open discrimination against white journalists
Lori Lightfoot is even stupider than I had thought. She has sparked a well-deserved uproar by letting local reporters know she will grant one-on-one interviews only to "Black and Brown journalists." The open and blatant racism came to light Tuesday, when Mary Ann Ahern, a White reporter for the local NBC station, tweeted:
As @chicagosmayor reaches her two year midway point as mayor, her spokeswoman says Lightfoot is granting 1 on 1 interviews - only to Black or Brown journalists
Other local reporters quickly confirmed they had been told the same thing:
I was told the same thing.— Paris Schutz (@paschutz) May 18, 2021
I can confirm, alderman— Heather Cherone (@HeatherCherone) May 18, 2021
As outrage built, Lightfoot sent out a two-page open letter and took to Twitter to defend her racism:
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended her controversial announcement to grant individual interviews only to journalists of color and blasted the city's media institutions for their "overwhelming whiteness and maleness" in an extraordinary letter on Wednesday.
Upon the two-year anniversary of her election, Democrat Lightfoot has drawn outrage after White journalists were told by her press office that they couldn't interview her one-on-one because of their skin color.
In a two-page letter to the media, Lightfoot, the first Black woman as well as the first openly gay mayor in Chicago's history, praised her own 2019 election for "breaking barriers" and took a shot at media organizations in the city for not adequately addressing "institutionalized racism" in their ranks. Her decision to temporarily speak only to Black and Brown reporters, she said, was part of her lifelong battle to fight for diversity and inclusion.
"In looking at the absence of diversity across the City Hall press corps and other newsrooms, sadly it does not appear that many of the media institutions in Chicago have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment," she wrote. "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."
I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn't just in City Hall.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
It's a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.
Apparently, she realized that the usage "Black and Brown" excludes Asians and Native Americans, and so she tightened her focus to exclude only Caucasian reporters.
Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media. In order to progress we must change.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
Perhaps she thought that she would earn goodwill from nonwhite reporters. But at least one principled reporter refused to be the beneficiary of racist policies:
I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today. 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. https://t.co/YMW8M8ZgJm— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) May 19, 2021
Alice Yin of the Chicago Tribune — seemingly excluded in the first round of mayoral racism (as not "Black or Brown), but then categorized as interview-worthy when the mayor included "AAPI" as POC (persons of color) in a later tweet — noted some very interesting local reactions:
WBEZ disputed the mayor's observation in a Wednesday story, noting that two of its three City Hall reporters are women, one Hispanic and the other South Asian.
WBEZ is the local NPR/PBS affiliate.
Yin also found a mixed reaction among purported beneficiaries of the racial discriminating:
The board of the National Association of Black Journalists agreed with the call for newsrooms to diversify their City Hall press corps ranks — but said it cannot support the mayor's method of achieving that.
"NABJ's history of advocacy does not support excluding any bona fide journalists from one-on-one interviews with newsmakers, even if it is for one day and in support of activism," the board wrote in an online statement Wednesday night.
Tiffany Walden, editor-in-chief of the digital media outlet The Triibe, which covers Chicago's Black communities, defended Lightfoot's action, saying it was a small step toward leveling the playing field after what she described as a long-standing lack of access for Black and Latino journalists.
"A lot of people are outraged by this, but just imagine what it's like for Black and brown journalists in the city to not ever have this access," Walden said. "This is literally a daily struggle for Black and brown journalists in Chicago, and I wish that was the conversation instead of people who have access to the mayor every single day complaining about one day that they don't have access."
Walden challenged Lightfoot to uphold her promise for supporting diversity in media by prioritizing access for Black and Latino-run media outlets just as much as for legacy media. She said her outlet has struggled to get timely responses from the Lightfoot administration and been excluded from press calls. Wednesday's interview was the first one-on-one meeting with the mayor for a Triibe staffer, she said.
The editor-in-chief of South Side Weekly, Jacqueline Serrato, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that her outlet did not get Lightfoot's letter to media and later said the paper had not been granted an interview with the mayor despite requests to her office from two women of color on the staff.
What makes Lightfoot's racial discrimination even worse is her customary poor treatment of the media:
She acts like she’s so accessible to the press (she’s not lol) - if you know how reporting goes in this city, you probably just shook your head like I did. She doesn’t take too kindly to anyone who questions her — meaning she regularly accosts them upon being asked uh..anything https://t.co/OPkzyYqhaB— Aly Alexandra (@AlyAlexandraa) May 20, 2021
The Chicago Sun-Times, while virtue-signaling that it wants more minority reporters, editorialized that Lightfoot was trolling for favorable coverage:
[I]nstead of bringing credible attention to a real problem, it looks to us like Lightfoot, battered by the press, is attempting to use reporters of color to get positive news coverage. And it all strikes us as wrong and more than a bit naive.
The fact that Lightfoot believes she can openly discriminate against Caucasians is a troubling sign of how far the racism that calls itself "anti-racist" has influenced public opinion away from the views of Martin Luther King and actual anti-racists.
Lightfoot has a clownish, exhibitionist streak in her, as evidenced by her costume when holding a press conference dressed as...Clorox (to fight coronavirus).
YouTube screen grab.
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