CHICAGO—Predominantly-White media outlets slammed Mayor Lori Lightfoot for prioritizing Black and Brown news reporters in an announcement following her second-year anniversary in office. Despite the lack of diversity in most news outlets, the mayor was made the villain for addressing an old and ongoing problem.
The Chicago mayor said in a letter to City Hall press, “As a person of color, I have throughout my adult life done everything that I can to fight for diversity and inclusion in every institution that I have been a part of and being Mayor makes me uniquely situated to shine a spotlight on this most important issue.”
The mayor continued to say May 19, “There is almost no one in the editorial board rooms or in the City Hall press corps who has themselves lived the experience of a woman of color in the City of Chicago. The Crain’s Chicago Business editorial board is entirely White. There are zero women of color on the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Almost all the major television networks in Chicago covering City Hall are led by White News Directors. …”
But the mayor’s opposition wasn’t having it. Tucker Carlson from Fox News went as far as declaring the mayor a “monster” for her decision. “Any society that allows politicians to talk like this has a very ugly future ahead,” Mr. Carlson said on his Fox News show May 19. “This seems to me like it has really racist overtones,” said Howie Kurtz of Fox News.
Twitter turned into a fire pit for the mayor. “Never mind the thousands of young black men dead in my city while Lori Lightfoot presides over systemic failure—she’s facilitating “healing” by discriminating against white reporters,” wrote Steve Cortes of Newsmax.
Tomi Lahren of Fox Nation wrote, “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declares she will only speak to reporters of color. If you think that sounds blatantly and disgustingly racist, you’d be 100% right.”
Ryan Saavedra of Real Daily Wire wrote, “Lori Lightfoot is a f—–g racist. Government officials discriminating against people based on race is illegal.”
However those that understand the sentiments of Mayor Lightfoot proves insults and backlash hurled her way say that Black and Brown news outlets being on the backburner for years was fine by their White counterparts.
“The mainstream media, radio and TV have always had the privilege or exclusiveness that we never had. ‘Boo-hoo’ to the White news. I don’t feel sorry for them, they do need to integrate their staff. They also need to give the opportunity to report in my community in a fair way,” Dorothy Leavell of the Chicago Crusader told The Final Call,
“It’s most of the politicians [and] elected officials we don’t have exclusive interviews with,” she continued. “I was livid when Vice President Kamala Harris came to Chicago and we could not get an interview with her. She can’t come to our Black cities and not let us have access. They did the same thing when Barack Obama came.”
“The backlash is that she called them out, and they got their hands caught in the cookie jar. The facts are facts, it’s no jumping around. It is what it is, and she called it truthfully. If you ask a slave master about slavery, his story is different from the slave,” said Hermene Hartman of N’DIGO.
Chicago is a tale of two medias, the longtime media professional explained. “It’s not about Black faces in the media, it’s about Black perspectives. … Where’s our perspective? It’s one thing to have to have Black folks reading on the news. It’s another thing to have Black folks with opinions on the news,” she said. “There is racism in Chicago media period.”
Maze Jackson of What’s In It For The Black People Media said, for White media “it’s just like calling the devil out. If you pull it by its tail, it’s going to holler. I think the mayor has articulated something that is a true issue.”
Mr. Jackson added, the mayor’s decision has to be backed by true intent in including and representing the Black perspective. “We all know that we suffer from racism in the media. I think what you find in Black media is that we don’t like being the pawns,” he continued.
“I think the mayor is correct,” said Erick Johnson of the Chicago Crusader. “Politics is journalism’s hallmark. It’s also the most prestigious, it can land you in the upper landmarks. … I do think it’s unfortunate that the mayor calls them out at a time she’s being called out. I think it’s a change she waited at this point when she’s under fire. … It would have been great if she did this when her people weren’t under fire, but anytime is the right time.”
Mr. Johnson said, the negative response to the mayor’s decision is due to privilege being threatened. “One newspaper said, ‘well, she did it the wrong way.’ Well what’s the right way?
“The minute we get radical and do something like the mayor, [now] we’re out of line,” he added.
“I think the mayor is on point in calling them out, this is something that is long overdue,” added Mr. Johnson.