Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit following backlash for her declaration that she would only give interviews to journalists of color.
Lightfoot, who assumed office in May 2019, announced last Tuesday that she would only grant one-on-one interviews to ‘black and brown’ reporters to mark her two-year anniversary in office.
Her announcement about the temporary policy sparked anger from reporters of all colors, but Lightfoot doubled down on her decision the next day, insisting it was part of her lifelong battle for diversity and inclusion.
On Thursday, however, the backlash hit a new level, with a white reporter from the Daily Caller suing Lightfoot in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The lawsuit, filed by Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch, alleges that Thomas Catenacci was denied an interview by Lightfoot.
The lawsuit claims Catenacci’s First Amendment rights were violated, as well as his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.
Catenacci sent three emails to Lightfoot’s office asking for an interview beginning on March 20, according to the lawsuit, none of which received a response.
The lawsuit says ‘failing to respond in a timely manner’ to the interview requests was akin to a denial.
While it doesn’t specify whether Lightfoot is being sued for damages, it does include request for a jury trial.
Catenacci was hoping to speak to her about Chicago’s battle against COVID-19 and the vaccination effort in the city.
‘It’s absurd that an elected official believes she can discriminate on the basis of race,’ DCNF Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton said in the Daily Caller. ‘Mayor Lightfoot’s decision is clearly blocking press freedom through racial discrimination.’
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, also commented on the lawsuit.
‘Racial discrimination has no place in America, especially in the halls of government,’ Fitton said.
‘Mayor Lightfoot’s admitted policy of race-based discrimination is flagrantly illegal and immoral. Simply put, we’re asking the court to find Mayor Lightfoot’s racist abuse unlawful,’ Fitton added.
Catenacci, meanwhile, says that he aims to hold Lightfoot ‘accountable.’
‘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.
Every journalist and every person who consumes the news should be concerned by Mayor Lightfoot’s actions,’ he continued.
The reporter also tweeted about the lawsuit on Thursday morning.
The lawsuit is arguably the most significant backlash since Lightfoot issued her open letter last week after news came out about her decree.
‘I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,’ Lightfoot wrote.
She called it ‘unacceptable’ that reporters covering City Hall were mostly white.
‘Many of them are smart and hard-working, savvy and skilled. But mostly white, nonetheless,’ she wrote.
Lightfoot later confirmed in a series of tweets that she was purposefully ‘prioritizing media requests from POC reporters’ and that it was a ‘shame’ the journalists assigned to cover Chicago’s City Hall in 2021 were overwhelmingly white.
‘Lori Lightfoot is a monster. Any society that allows politicians to talk like this has a very ugly future ahead. Very ugly.’
Leo Terrell, a civil rights attorney and Fox News contributor, later told Sean Hannity he thought Lightfoot was racist.
‘Lori Lightfoot is a racist – not a covert racist, an overt racist,’ he said.
‘The reason why she gets away with it is because she is black and she got that ‘D’ in front of her name.
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