Listen, Lori Lightfoot is a lot of things. She is the first openly gay, African-American woman to serve as Chicago’s 56th mayor. She is the first mayor to show up to a press conference dressed as “Rona Destroyer.” And she was the first political official to tell kids to stay their ass in the house because their jump shot is always going to be weak.
So did it surprise anyone when Lightfoot noted in May that she would only be granting interview requests with minority journalists? Or, would it shock anyone to learn that she doubled down on that statement as she called the number of non-white journalists covering her 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 told the New York Times.
“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,” she added.
Lightfoot said that the motive wasn’t to exclude folks, but a push to get newsrooms “focused on diversity.”
“In Chicago, we have a huge amount of diverse media talent. We’ve got schools that...that are best in class across the country, and I would say, really, across the world,” she said.
“So the absence of journalists of color, covering the mayor of the third-largest city in the country is absolutely unacceptable. And so I decided to say something about it,” the mayor added.
Lightfoot did note that politicians shouldn’t be able to determine who covers them.
“No, it’s not about me choosing who covers me, right? I gave exclusive interviews. And we do get to choose who we talk to in exclusives. I gave exclusive interviews with journalists of color, right?” she said.
“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,” the mayor added.