This seems, er … problematic. The Right Scoop picked up on this new access policy late last night after NBC Chicago reporter Mary Ann Ahern tweeted out the pledge from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s spokesperson. While NBC Chicago has yet to report on this development, Ahern thought it important enough to pin her tweet for maximum exposure:
— Mary Ann Ahern (@MaryAnnAhernNBC) May 18, 2021
NBC’s affiliate may have taken a pass thus far on covering it, but Fox News is all over it, natch:
Reporters out of Chicago are alleging that Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot is now granting interviews only to journalists of color.
NBC 5 Chicago political reporter Mary Ann Ahern took to Twitter on Tuesday to mark the “midway point” of Lightfoot’s first term in office and apparently acknowledged her failed effort to land an interview.
“As @chicagosmayor reaches her two year midway point as mayor, her spokeswoman says Lightfoot is granting 1 on 1 interviews – only to Black or Brown journalists,” Ahern tweeted.
Does this seem too good to be true? Sour grapes? An excuse for losing a scoop? It might look that way, but as TRS and Fox point out, other reporters in Chicago confirmed they had received the same guidance:
“I was told the same thing,” WTTW Chicago Tonight anchor and correspondent Paris Schutz reacted to Ahern’s tweet.
“I can confirm,” Chicago politics reporter Heather Cherone similarly tweeted.
Chicago alderman George Cardenas thought it was too good to be true, which is what prompted Cherone’s tweet. Fellow alderman Brendan Reilly was aghast:
How is that even true, be serious
— George Cardenas (@aldcardenas) May 18, 2021
Are you kidding? If that’s true, that’s totally inappropriate. Take a moment to reverse-engineer that.
— Brendan Reilly (@AldReilly) May 19, 2021
Plenty of people did reverse engineer it on Twitter, but put aside the “what if she was white” argument, which is too easy. Instead, try engineering this at all. How exactly does Lightfoot and her office plan to execute this policy, even if it’s entirely well-intended as a way to promote minority hiring in media? Do reporters have to submit DNA to prove they are “Black or Brown” to get an interview? Perhaps this has escaped the mayor’s notice, but not all “Black or Brown” people have skin tones all that different than people without that ancestry. Not all Hispanics have traditional Hispanic surnames, and not all people with traditional Hispanic surnames necessarily identify as Hispanic or Latino. And why only “Black or Brown”? Why not Native Americans and Asians?
To absurdum this idiotic reductio to its inevitable conclusion, reporters might end up having to argue the racist “one drop” rule just to compete in the Chicago market. Lightfoot has certainly incentivized that outcome with this new standard. Reporters will want to take 23&Me and Ancestry.com DNA tests to see if they can find any claim at all to “Black or Brown” ethnicity, and then demand access to Lightfoot accordingly.
And for that matter, why does Lightfoot think “black or brown journalists” need special treatment to get ahead?
Reilly’s correct that this is totally inappropriate, no matter what the intent. Lightfoot is a public servant, not a media editor. Her job requires Lightfoot to engage with reporters chosen by the media outlets. To any extent that Lightfoot wants to get choosy, it should be on the basis of competence, not skin color. All this policy does is divide people even further over immutable and ultimately irrelevant characteristics. It’s not just unworkable, it’s counterproductive for everyone.