Chicago mayor: Look, I wanted my racist interview policy to strike a blow for media diversity for just one day

It makes me laugh that some of her defenders like Snopes are at pains to emphasize that her “no whites allowed” interview rules come with limitations. It’s just for her two-year anniversary. And it’s just one-on-one interviews, not press conferences.

Can’t we tolerate one day of situational racism if it’s for the greater good?

What’s strange to me is how random and needlessly exclusionary the policy seems. Why is diversity in the media, specifically, her focus on the anniversary of her own election instead of, say, diversity among vendors with whom the city does business? But if she’s fixated on the media for whatever reason, she could have held a symposium with black and Latino reporters to discuss their experiences in the business and to highlight their opinions on what can be done to encourage more minorities to get into journalism. Or she could have granted an interview to a single white reporter along with interviews to multiple black and Latino journalists in order to raise their visibility.

She could have even followed her “no white interviews” policy without articulating it, sitting down exclusively with minority journalists on her anniversary and then claiming that their race was pure happenstance if anyone objected. There are a hundred things she could have done that didn’t require an overt rule denying white reporters an opportunity to do their job.

So why did she insist on going that route?

A friend pointed me to this poll from April showing just 16 percent of Chicagoans rating Lightfoot’s performance as “excellent” or good” and said, “On the one hand, if your approval rating is 16%, maybe you shouldn’t create a racial controversy just because you’re upset at the lack of diversity in the press pool. OTOH, if you’re at 16%, maybe a manufactured racial controversy is a distraction from all of the more significant reasons your approval is at 16%.” Right, given the long list of things Chicago voters have to be mad about — crime, closed schools, police brutality, etc — dividing them along racial lines based on the perceived wisdom of Lightfoot’s media policy isn’t the worst way to go.

Exit question: Does she think she increased goodwill towards minority journalists within their profession with her standard? Does she care?

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