Chicago Mayor Doubles Down on Decision to Only Grant Interviews to Reporters of Color: “I Would Do it Again”

Then Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot with Ivanka Trump, Senior Advisor to the President on May 7, 2019 in Washington D.C. at the White House.
Then Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot with Ivanka Trump, Senior Advisor to the President on May 7, 2019 in Washington D.C. at the White House.

In an interview published on Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot doubled down on her controversial decision earlier this year to only grant interviews to people of color on the two-year anniversary of her 2019 election, at the time citing the “overwhelming whiteness and maleness” in the news media as her reasoning.

The decision at the time to exclude reports from interviews based solely on the color of their skin was roundly criticized as racist, but said on Monday that she would “absolutely” do it again – despite the controversy – because she found the lack of reporters of color covering her administration “unacceptable.”

“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,” Lightfoot said. “But I don’t want just a conversation. I want results. I want to see these networks, these companies, these producers, the decision makers take this seriously, because it’s a serious issue.”

Lightfoot had previously defended her decision, releasing a letter amidst the initial outrage caused by her announcement saying that her decision to only grant interviews to reporters of color was a part of her lifelong battle for “diversity and inclusion” while calling out “the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically.”

In Monday’s interview, Lightfoot – who currently presides over one of the most crime-ridden cities in the United States, with 73 people reportedly shot just this past weekend alone – remained defiant on her contentious decision on the anniversary of her election.

“Here is the bottom line for me, to state the obvious, I’m a Black woman mayor. 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,” Lightfoot said. “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.”

However, Lightfoot’s decision at the time drew heavy criticism from members of the media; Gregory Pratt, a Latino reporter at the Chicago Tribune, announced on Twitter that he had cancelled an interview with the Mayor after he had asked her to reverse her interview policy. In addition, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi tweeted said that choosing who does and does not get to interview you based solely on race or gender is inherently racist.

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