The mayor of Chicago defends his policy of granting interviews only to reporters of color.
Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, reportedly defended her controversial decision to limit interview requests to minority journalists, describing the number of non-white journalists covering her as "unacceptable."
“I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'm not apologetic for it because it sparked an extremely important conversation, one that needed to happen and should have happened a long time ago," Lightfoot told Kara Swisher of the New York Times' "Sway" show on Monday.
As she marked her two-year anniversary in office in May, the Democrat — whose city is wracked by gun violence and on track to surpass last year's total of 48 mass shootings — blasted the Windy City's media for its "overwhelming whiteness" and announced that she would grant one-on-one interviews to only minority members.
“To state the obvious, I am a black woman mayor. As mayor of the third-largest city in the country, I obviously have a platform, and it's critical for me to advocate for causes I believe in," Lightfoot told Swisher.
“Returning to why I ran, to upend the status quo. The media is critical to our democracy... the media is undergoing incredible change and disruption, but our city hall press corps appears to be stuck in the 1950s or 1970s,” she added.
Lightfoot urged media outlets to be "diversity-focused."
“Chicago has an abundance of diverse media talent. We have journalism schools that are best in class throughout the country, and I would argue, throughout the world,” she said.
“As a result, the absence of journalists of color covering the mayor of a country's third-largest city is intolerable. As a result, I decided to speak out,” the mayor continued.
However, she added that politicians should not be allowed to pick their own insurance providers.
“I was recently a professor at the University of Chicago. You have an incredible array of diverse journalists studying there, which I taught. Additionally, I concur with the need for increased media diversity. However, politicians do not have a say in who covers them,” Swisher stated.
“No, this is not about me deciding who will cover me, correct? I conducted privileged interviews. And we do have some say over who we speak with in exclusives. "You are aware that I conducted exclusive interviews with journalists of color?" she inquired.
“It was as if people's heads exploded in a 24-hour period. I was asked by journalists, 'Does the mayor believe I'm racist?' No, this is not a personal matter. It's a matter of systemic racism," the mayor continued.
When asked if her choice was successful, Lightfoot stated that she would "absolutely do it again."
“I make no apologies for it because it sparked an extremely important conversation, one that needed to happen and should have happened long ago,” she explained.
As of Sunday, Chicago had recorded 428 homicides, a 1% decrease from 434 at the same point last year. According to police department data, 1,886 shootings occurred, an increase of 11% from the same period in 2020.