Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tulsi Gabbard accused Lori Lightfoot of 'anti-white racism' after Lightfoot said she will only interview with journalists of color

By Lauren Frias

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference in Hall A at the COVID-19 alternate site at McCormick Place in Chicago, Friday, April 10, 2020. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

  • Chicago mayor Lightfoot said she would only be interviewed by reporters of color for the two-year anniversary of her inauguration.
  • "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," Lightfoot said.
  • People on Twitter slammed Gabbard for using the term "anti-white," which trended on the platform on Friday.

Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard accused Lori Lightfoot of "anti-white racism" after the Chicago mayor announced Wednesday that she would only be interviewed by minority reporters for the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, sparking backlash from press corps members and other politicians.

"I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many," Lightfoot, who is Black, tweeted Wednesday. "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."

She added: "This is exactly why I'm being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city."

Gabbard weighed in on Lightfoot's decision on Friday, calling for Lightfoot's resignation in response to her comments earlier this week.

"Mayor Lightfoot's blatant anti-white racism is abhorrent," Gabbard tweeted Friday. "I call upon President Biden, Kamala Harris, and other leaders of our county—of all races—to join me in calling for Mayor Lightfoot's resignation. Our leaders must condemn all racism, including anti-white."

Gabbard's tweet trended on Twitter on Friday, with some users on the social media platform slamming the former congresswoman for using the term "anti-white."

Lightfoot's move also drew criticism from members of the press corps.

WMAQ-TV reporter Mary Ann Ahern, who is white, first tweeted about Lightfoot's decision on Tuesday, later calling the move "outrageous" in an interview on WGN Radio.

"To choose a reporter based on the color of their skin is really pretty outrageous," Ahern said, citing a report by USA Today. "Does she think I'm racist? Is that what she's saying?"

Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt tweeted Wednesday saying he was granted an interview with the mayor but declined after her office refused to lift the condition.

"I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today," Pratt tweeted. "However, I asked the mayor's office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled."

"Politicians don't get to choose who covers them," Pratt continued.

The Triibe, a Chicago-based digital news outlet aimed at "reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago," according to its website, pushed back against the criticism directed at Lightfoot for prioritizing interviews with reporters of color.

"With this outrage, y'all are implying that Black and Brown journalists aren't capable of asking the hard questions," the media platform tweeted Wednesday, along with a photo of one of their reporters interviewing the Chicago mayor.



THIS is Racism!

May 22, 2021

Where is the media and left-wing outrage over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot saying she will no longer grant interviews to white reporters?

As the city of Chicago crumbles, Lightfoot, a Democrat, complained about the “overwhelming whiteness and maleness“ of the media.

Her new policy is the very definition of racism. What do you think?


Mayor Lightfoot only granting interviews to reporters of color ahead of 2nd anniversary
Craig Wall

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On the eve of her second anniversary as Chicago mayor, Mayor Lori Lightfoot seized the opportunity to raise the issue of diversity by only giving interviews to reporters of color.

Lightfoot has made equity and inclusion a major focus of her first two years in office. And in deciding to take aim at the media, she said she has been struck by the "overwhelming whiteness and maleness" of Chicago media outlets from the board room to the press room.

In a two-page letter to members of the media, she wrote: "It is impossible for this glaring lack of diversity not to be reflected in the daily coverage of government, politics and city life every single day."

"She makes a really great case about diversity and the lack of diversity, but she doesn't make the case about what's wrong with the way she's being covered," ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said. "What she says implies that she's being covered unfairly, there's implicitly or explicitly bias, but she never makes the case for how that plays out in the media."

Northwestern University Journalism Professor Ava Greenwell has written a book about the diversity issues in newsrooms, which go back decades. She supports the mayor's desire to draw attention to the issue.

"When we're looking at the Black Lives Matter movement and inequity and all these other places, the news media has no choice but also to look at itself in this situation and see if it doing the best job it can to actually fostering equity across the board," Greenwell said.

But former ABC7 Political Reporter Charles Thomas, who covered City Hall for nearly 10 years, sees the mayor's move as an attempt to distract from other more important issues.

"Is the crisis diversity, or is the crisis crime?" Thomas said. "I would suggest to you that a bigger crisis is crime. A bigger crisis is city finances. A big crisis is public education in a city where the schools and public schools have been closed for a year and a semester."
The mayor also issued a challenge to newsrooms to hire more reporters of color to cover City Hall.

The President of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists sees the letter as no big deal, because diversity in newsrooms is something they've been fighting for years.

"Yes, it's a great public relations move at her two year mark," NABJ Chicago President Maudlyne Ihejirika said. "But, it will not, it will not mean Mayor Lightfoot does not have to answer for her deficiencies, her weaknesses as well as her accomplishments over these past two years."

In a statement, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said while it is important to address newsroom inequalities, "NAHJ does not condone restricting press access based on a journalist's race/ethnicity. Any action that threatens the cornerstone of our democracy and First Amendment rights is unacceptable."

There are also some who see this as an attempt by the mayor to curry favor with the Black and Brown communities, where her support may be soft.

ABC 7's Evelyn Holmes interviewed Mayor Lori Lightfoot Wednesday on a wide range of serious issues facing our city. ABC 7 is committed to holding all of our elected officials accountable, no matter who is invited to ask the questions. Her interview will air in our newscasts on Thursday.