The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) and Judicial Watch sued Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) Thursday after Lightfoot refused an interview by reporter Thomas Catenacci.
Catenacci, who is white, works for the DCNF and sought an interview with Lightfoot on Chicago’s efforts to vaccinate its citizens and other topics related to COVID-19, according to the DCNF. Lightfoot never responded to multiple requests for an interview, and earlier this month announced that she would only grant interviews to “black and brown” reporters.
“On May 20, 2021, Plaintiff Catenacci requested, by email, a one-on-one interview with Mayor Lightfoot,” says the lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. “Plaintiff Catenacci sent a follow-up email on May 21, 2021. He also sent a third email on May 24, 2021.”
“As of the date of this Complaint, Mayor Lightfoot’s office has not responded to Plaintiff Catenacci’s request nor has Mayor Lightfoot agreed to an interview with Plaintiff Catenacci,” the suit continues.
The DCNF reported: “Lightfoot denied Catenacci’s request by ‘failing to respond in a timely manner,’ the lawsuit said, noting that ‘on information and belief,’ Lightfoot is aware that Catenacci is ‘not a journalist of color.’”
The lawsuit alleges that Lightfoot violated Catenacci’s First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. DCNF Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton slammed Lightfoot for refusing an interview with his reporter.
“It’s absurd that an elected official believes she can discriminate on the basis of race,” Barton said. “Mayor Lightfoot’s decision is clearly blocking press freedom through racial discrimination.”
The DCNF partnered with nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch to bring the lawsuit against Lightfoot. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Lightfoot’s behavior is “flagrantly illegal and immoral.”
“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.”
Over Twitter, Catenacci said he looks “forward to holding [Lightfoot] accountable.”
Some personal news.
I look forward to holding her accountable. https://t.co/yL4WzAoxgI
— Thomas Catenacci (@ThomasCatenacci) May 27, 2021
In mid-May, Chicago journalists began reporting that Lightfoot was deciding who would be granted interviews with her based on the reporter’s race. Lightfoot later confirmed the accusations and defended her attempt to combat the “overwhelming whiteness and maleness” of the press corps.
“In looking at the absence of diversity across the City Hall press corps and other newsrooms, sadly it does not appear that many of the media institutions in Chicago have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment,” Lightfoot wrote in a letter to the media explaining her discriminatory policy. “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.”
“If I as the black woman mayor, the first-ever, don’t challenge us, the collective us, to do better, to really make sure that in every institution it reflects the diversity, nuance, and texture, then shame on me,” she continued.
“This isn’t my job. It shouldn’t be,” she said. “I don’t have time for it. But as with so many festering problems, it has only gotten worse with time. So here I am, like so many other Black women before me, having to call your attention to this problem.”
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