Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has stoked controversy with previous public statements, but her latest remarks about providing priority treatment to journalists of color have prompted a bipartisan backlash.
Former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said the mayor’s behavior amounted to “anti-white racism” and called on President Joe Biden to pressure Lightfoot into stepping down, Breitbart reported.
“To break up the status quo”
For her part, the Chicago mayor defended her decision to grant interviews exclusively to minority reporters as a way to advance the agenda on which she campaigned.
“I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many,” she added. “That isn’t just in City Hall. 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.”
Local NBC reporter Mary Ann Ahern, who is white, broke the story, prompting a number of her colleagues to back up claims that the mayor was excluding white journalists.
In a tweet on Tuesday night, Ahern cited a Lightfoot spokesperson who confirmed only “Black or Brown journalists” would be granted one-on-one interviews.
The revelation sparked widespread criticism of the mayor’s decision, including allegations of racism and accusations that she hoped to use the tactic to control how she is covered by the media. Gabbard went so far as to solicit support for her effort to pressure Lightfoot to resign.
“We respectfully declined”
“Mayor Lightfoot’s blatant anti-white racism is abhorrent,” she tweeted. “I call upon President Biden, Kamala Harris, and other leaders of our country — of all races — to join me in calling for Mayor Lightfoot’s resignation.”
As for the White House, it did not provide an immediate response to the former congresswoman’s call.
Even Latino Chicago Tribune Gregory Pratt spoke out despite being among the reporters granted a personal interview with the mayor.
“However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully declined,” he wrote. “Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.”
Other local reporters, however, seem to be on board with the racially exclusive policy, including Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet, who said she was “not troubled” by it.