Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF
The Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday over the mayor’s refusal to grant Thomas Catenacci, a white reporter, an interview.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, alleges that Lightfoot’s denial violates the DCNF and Catenacci’s First Amendment rights and 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,” DCNF Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton said. “Mayor Lightfoot’s decision is clearly blocking press freedom through racial discrimination.”
Lightfoot announced earlier this month that she would grant one-on-one interviews “only to black or brown journalists.” Since then, the Chicago Democrat has not granted interview requests to any white reporters.
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,” Judicial Watch President Tom 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.”
Catenacci said: “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.”
“This affects everyone,” he continued. “I look forward to holding the mayor accountable.”
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