The mayor of Chicago has instituted a racist new policy, saying she will only give one-on-one interviews to Black or Brown journalists. The shocking and blatantly discriminatory move has been buried by network press. So far, ABC, CBS and NBC have totally ignored the story and CNN has allowed minimal coverage, but defended Lori Lightfoot’s move as a win for diversity and that no one should be “troubled” by it. MSNBC also has been MIA in coverage.
On Tuesday, local NBC5 Chicago reporter Mary Ann Ahern confirmed in a tweet that the Chicago mayor would now officially be discriminating.
Yet, the network morning and evening newscasts on the networks have refused to report on the decision. Fox News has covered it extensively while CNN has massively underplayed it. The network did a brief mention at 5:39 AM on Thursday. Then, the network’s morning show, New Day, even defended it. Host John Berman brought on liberal Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet on. She dismissed the segregationist policy as perfectly fine:
I just want to say from the beginning, I am not troubled by this. I've been part of the Chicago press corps for a long, long time and Lori Lightfoot did not say anything that we did not know.
Sweet hailed the action as nothing more than diversity in action: “For one day, she's trying to shake everybody up and shine a spotlight on the lack of diversity in the City Hall press corps…. Chicago is a very diverse city when newsrooms are not.”
Fox News has provided extensive coverage to the controversy. Naturally, the two journalists took a shot at the cable competitors for actually doing their jobs:
JOHN BERMAN: Well, some people are playing it -- so, you know, some people are playing it basically as no whites allowed. That's how it's being portrayed, as you can imagine, on an entire cable network.
LYNN SWEET: Absolutely, and I see what's happening and I see how the right-wing press is playing this. But everybody take a deep breath. That's not what is happening.
The New Day segment on Thursday lasted 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Both Sinclair and Nexstar covered it on Wednesday night and Thursday morning with reporting on National Desk and NewsNation. On Monday, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle interviewed Lightfoot for 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The new policy never came up, though, as FoxNews.com explained, it’s not totally clear when it was officially instituted.
A transcript of the New Day segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.
7:58 AM ET
JOHN BERMAN: So, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot facing criticism for her decision to grant one-on-one interviews with only minority journalists to commemorate her second anniversary in office. In a letter to City Hall -- Chicago City Hall reporter, she wrote, "There are only a handful of beat reporters of color in the City Hall press corps. There are zero women of color assigned to the City Hall beat -- zero. I find this unacceptable and I hope you do, too. 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." Joining me now is Lynn Sweet. She is the Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times" and a longtime member of the Chicago Press Corps. So what's going on here, Lynn?
LYNN SWEET (Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Sun Times): Well, John, I just want to say from the beginning, I am not troubled by this. I've been part of the Chicago press corps for a long, long time and Lori Lightfoot did not say anything that we did not know. So what's going on, John? For one day, she's trying to shake everybody up and shine a spotlight on the lack of diversity in the City Hall press corps.
John, I mean, I keep a foot in City Hall politics as well as covering Washington and the White House. Now, I can, within an hour, be on the phone with someone from Capitol Hill, the White House, and City Hall, so I know what Lightfoot's talking about. Chicago is a very diverse city when newsrooms are not.
BERMAN: So, Gregory Pratt, who is with the Chicago Tribune -- this is how he responded. He says, "I am a Latino reporter at the Chicago Tribune whose interview request was granted for today. 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." He's basically saying if they're going to do this I'm not playing.
SWEET: I respect Gregory. He is a regular in City Hall. He's there every day. But I respectfully want to point out that big newsmakers pick who they want to talk to for one-on-one interviews all the time. I only live in the real world, John, as you do, and we know that when you're a big newsmaker with many interview requests you pick and choose.
Today marks the second anniversary of Lori Lightfoot being mayor. That's why this is coming to a head today. So she had a bunch of interview requests, so she did pick and choose. And some of the outlets that she is talking to today are community outlets that don't have the resources to staff City Hall every day like the big legacy outlets do -- and what's wrong with that? And by the way --
BERMAN: Well, some people are playing it -- so, you know, some people are playing it basically as no whites allowed. That's how it's being portrayed, as you can imagine, on an entire cable network.
SWEET: Absolutely, and I see what's happening and I see how the right-wing press is playing this. But everybody take a deep breath. That's not what is happening. If I had a question for Lori Lightfoot and I was in Chicago today, she's having a press conference in a few hours. John, if anyone at CNN wants to go ask her something, you could do it -- show up. Do you know Lori Lightfoot has press conferences that anybody could go to three times a week usually, at least? She's got a bunch coming up. She's done a bunch this week.
BERMAN: Lynn Sweet, appreciate you joining us this morning. Always great to talk to someone who's got so much experience in so many places. Thank you so much.