The Daily Caller News Foundation and one of its reporters, Thomas Catenacci, is suing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) over her decision to only grant interviews to 'black or brown journalists.'
The lawsuit, filed by Daily Caller and Judicial Watch in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that Lightfoot's denial violates the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights, as well as Catenacci's right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
"It’s absurd that an elected official believes she can discriminate on the basis of race," said DCNF Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton. "Mayor Lightfoot’s decision is clearly blocking press freedom through racial discrimination."
Earlier this month Lightfoot announced that she would grant one-on-one interviews "only to black or brown journalists."
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Catenacci sought to interview Lightfoot about a variety of topics regarding COVID-19 and the city’s efforts to vaccinate its population.
“On May 20, 2021, Plaintiff Catenacci requested, by email, a one-on-one interview with Mayor Lightfoot,” the DCNF lawsuit said. “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.
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.”
“Racial discrimination has no place in America, especially in the halls of government,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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.”
According to Catenacci, "Preventing journalists from doing our jobs in such a blatantly discriminatory way is wrong and does a disservice to our readers who come from all backgrounds. Every journalist and every person who consumes the news should be concerned by Mayor Lightfoot’s actions."
Lightfoot's policy set off a firestorm of protest from local Chicago reporters, with one Chicago Tribune journalist of color canceling a scheduled interview with the mayor in protest.
"I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today," tweeted the Tribune's City Hall reporter, Gregory Pratt, adding "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."
I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune 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. https://t.co/YMW8M8ZgJm— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) May 19, 2021