Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is being sued by a white reporter for only granting interviews to journalists on the two-year anniversary of her being in office.
According to local station WFLD, Thomas Catenacci, a reporter for the right-wing news site The Daily Caller, is claiming Lightfoot is violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The Daily Caller is co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
“Preventing journalists from doing our jobs in such a blatantly discriminatory way is wrong and does a disservice to our readers who come from all backgrounds,” Catenacci said in a statement. “Every journalist and every person who consumes the news should be concerned by Mayor Lightfoot’s actions. This affects everyone. I look forward to holding the mayor accountable.”
On May 27, Catenacci filed the civil rights lawsuit after three requests to interview Mayor Lightfoot went unanswered.
On May 21, Lightfoot said in a letter to Chicago area media outlets that she has been “struck by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,” and noted that she sees no women of color covering City Hall.
Lightfoot challenged Chicago’s media community to hire more people of color, especially women.
“It is too heavy a burden…to have to take on the labor of educating white, mostly male members of the news media about the perils and complexities of implicit bias,” she wrote. “This isn’t my job. It shouldn’t be.”
Although Lightfoot said this is a one-time thing to shed light on a problem, she immediately received criticism from people in and around the media community, who say politicians should not get to choose who covers them.
“We’re talking about someone trying to shed light on historic inequities, and that’s a commendable goal. Still, it’s a slippery slope to kind of allow politicians to dictate coverage in that way,” Charles Whitaker, Dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism told CBS Chicago.
While not necessarily backing Lightfoot’s decision, the National Association of Black Journalists, whose longtime mission has been to advocate for newsroom diversity, issued a statement saying it understands the message she was trying to convey.
“I hope managers in newsrooms big and small get the message. Political units must include different perspectives and life experiences in order to move diverse stories to the forefront,” said NABJ president Dorothy Tucker in a tweet.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has not commented on the recent lawsuit.