CNN guest defends Lori Lightfoot's moratorium against White reporters

Media top headlines May 20

Growing outcry over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot only granting interviews to journalists of color and more round out today’s top media headlines

Chicago journalist Lynn Sweet put up a staunch defense of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s temporary moratorium against White reporters during a Thursday appearance on CNN. 

Sweet, the Washington bureau chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, told host John Berman she was “not troubled” by the discriminatory policy. Lightfoot announced she would implement it to mark her two-year anniversary of becoming Chicago’s mayor to help fix the “imbalance” of diversity in local media.

Berman noted criticism Lightfoot faced over the moratorium and read her statement on why she made the decision, which rapped local media outlets for their “overwhelming whiteness.”

“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 said. “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.” 

She added that Chicago is a diverse city but its newsrooms are not.

Berman then pointed to the cancellation of an interview with Lightfoot by Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt, a Latino, who stated he requested Lightfoot’s office lift the moratorium, but that they declined, leading to his decision to cancel. “Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them,” Pratt said while announcing the cancellation. 

“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,” Sweet said. “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,” she continued. “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?”

Later in the interview, Sweet said reporters were free to ask Lightfoot questions at her press conferences.

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