Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it has amended its lawsuit against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat who claims to be “unapologetic” about her previous policy of granting interviews only to journalists of color.
Lightfoot told The New York Times for a podcast released Monday that she “would absolutely” implement the interview policy again. “I’m unapologetic about it because it spurred a very important conversation, a conversation that needed to happen, that should have happened a long time ago,” Lightfoot said.
Judicial Watch, which sued Lightfoot on behalf of The Daily Caller News Foundation and its reporter Thomas Catenacci, said the Chicago mayor’s office has ignored calls to sign an agreement not to use race-based criteria for interview requests for the remainder of her term.
“Mayor Lightfoot discriminated against journalists based upon their race,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release. “Judicial Watch has repeatedly requested that Lightfoot sign a consent decree agreeing not to use race-based criteria for interview requests for the remainder of her time in office.”
The Judicial Watch lawsuit alleges that Lightfoot violated First Amendment rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment after she refused to grant Catenacci, a white reporter, an interview.
Lightfoot’s office did not respond to the request for a one-on-one interview, and did not reply to Catenacci’s two follow-up emails.
“I cannot believe Mayor Lightfoot told The New York Times reporter that she would absolutely discriminate against reporters again based on their race,” Catenacci said. “If she isn’t stopped, what’s next?”
Lightfoot’s communications director said the mayor used the race-based criteria only for two days from May 19-20, Judicial Watch says in the press release. However, neither Lightfoot nor her spokesperson suggested that the new interview policy was not permanent or identified any time limit, according to the press release.
“A policy of granting interviews based on the color of a reporter’s skin isn’t merely discriminatory, it undercuts the foundational principles of freedom of the press,” said Thomas Phippen, acting editor in chief of The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That Mayor Lightfoot is ‘unapologetic’ about her policy speaks volumes.”
Lightfoot’s office told multiple reporters that she would do one-on-one interviews only with “black or brown journalists” in May 2020.
One Latino reporter canceled his meeting with Lightfoot in May over her race-based criteria for interviews.
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