I wasn’t aware that the Chicago media were allowing Mayor Lori Lightfoot to skate through her press conferences in the mode of President Joe Biden’s campaign.
Only one reporter, I am told, is allowed to attend in person to her press conferences. It’s a “pool” reporter who relays questions from remote reporters. I can’t say if all of the remote questions are passed on to Lightfoot or if she answers them all.
It’s not like the press conferences I used to attend as a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Mayors, governors, lawmakers, department heads and more were routinely questioned by rooms of reporters, not a few of them hostile, but all of them anxious to have their questions answered.
Even former president Donald Trump faced herds of reporters, most of them hostile, and went toe-to-toe with them, for almost as long as questions kept coming. I can’t say that Trump’s answers were always responsive, accurate or reasonable.
But that was better than what Lightfoot and Biden are doing. During his campaign and and in the early days of his administration, it’s almost as if the reporters have to ask, “Sir or Madam, by your leave may I ask a question, something I hope isn’t too upsetting to you.”
Thanks to Amy Jacobson, co-host on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM, I l learned of Lightfoot’s dodge. It came when Lightfoot was conducting a press conference at the South Shore Cultural Center to announce something or another.
Jacobson had the temerity to show up in person and ask her own question. She, of course, was muzzled by an “aide.” Jacobson correctly claimed her right to be in a public place and ask a question of an elected official. Oooh no! Threats were delivered about calling the police and Jacobson said go ahead.
Jacobson was upset because Lightfoot was talking about opening Chicago’s public schools, but appeared not to know that high school sports had two weeks ago already received the green light from state authorities. How can she not know this when is she is supposed to be the leader, Jacobson wondered.
Jacobson notes that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted far enough to allow more than one reporter at press conferences. And yet, Lightfoot’s barrier against the media’s full participation remain in place.
Right, I understand that people get tired of hearing how things used to get done. But sometimes they’re a hell of a lot better than how they’re being done now. The old timers would never had let themselves be treated with such disdain.
Yes, the Chicago media are getting soft.
Go here to listen to Jacobson tell her story. The link is to her February 9 broadcast. Go to about 17:50 into the show.
A footnote: Jacobson had been barred from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s press conferences. She went to court and Pritzker backed down allowing her in. Read: Pritzker backs down, allows Amy Jacobson, AM560 back into press conferences
See Jacobson’s tweet of the incident. This city version cuts off her question.
More on the media: “The Journalistic Tattletale and Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows: The NYT’s Taylor Lorenz falsely accuses a tech investor of using a slur after spending months trying to infiltrate and monitor a new app that allows free conversation.”