Thomas Catenacci, who is white, said he sought an interview with the Democrat mayor, who did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Earlier this month, Lightfoot said she would give interviews to “black or brown” reporters to mark the second anniversary of her swearing-in.
Now, the Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch on Thursday filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, alleging the Lightfoot may have violated the First Amendment rights of the news outlet and Catenacci, as well as his right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Catenacci alleged on Twitter that Lightfoot engaged in “racial discrimination” after she “denied me an interview based on my race.”
According to the suit, he attempted to interview Lightfoot about COVID-19 vaccines and other topics.
“On May 20, 2021, Plaintiff Catenacci requested, by email, a one-on-one interview with Mayor Lightfoot,” the lawsuit stated. “Plaintiff Catenacci sent a follow-up email on May 21, 2021. He also sent a third email on May 24, 2021.”
The lawsuit then stated that “Lightfoot’s office has not responded” yet to “Catenacci’s request nor has Mayor Lightfoot agreed to an interview with Plaintiff Catenacci.” Lightfoot, the lawsuit alleged, denied the reporter’s request by not responding in a “timely manner,” and it said she is aware that Catenacci is “not a journalist of color” based on “information and belief.”
“Racial discrimination has no place in America, especially in the halls of government,” stated 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.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the mayor’s office for comment.
Earlier this month, Lightfoot responded to claims from local reporters that she was deciding on who would be given the chance to interview her based on the reporter’s race or ethnicity and appeared to confirm the move.
“In looking at the absence of diversity across the City Hall press corps and other newsrooms, sadly it does not appear that many of the media institutions in Chicago have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment,” Lightfoot wrote to local media outlets in a letter. “I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically.”
Her decision drew backlash from a number of local journalists, with the Chicago Tribune saying that it “declined to participate in an interview with Lightfoot to object to the restrictions” in recent days.
However, Lightfoot granted an interview last week to MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, so it’s not clear if the policy is permanent or applies only to local reporters.
The case is Catenacci et al v. Lightfoot, No. 1:21-cv-02852