‘Yes, that was a Nazi reference. It was deserved,’ says Carlson
Ms Lightfoot had told reporters earlier this week that for the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, she would only grant one-on-one interviews to reporters of colour.
“Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media,” Ms Lightfoot tweeted. “This is exactly why I’m being intentional about prioritising media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city.”
The announcement got immediate pushback from members of the press, including white reporters whose interview requests were refused.
“I think it’s outrageous for an elected official to choose who will ask questions,” NBC Chicago reporter Mary Ann Ahern, who is white, told The Hill. “And it’s even more outrageous when it’s based on the colour of their skin.”
Mr Carlson went further.
“If someday the Chicago police rounded up the entire population of the city, Lori Lightfoot would have no trouble pulling the right ones out of line for punishment,” he said on Wednesday night. “By the way, in case you’re wondering, yes, that was a Nazi reference. It was deserved.”
Some of the journalists who objected to Ms Lightfoot’s policy remarked that, in general, public servants should not get to choose who asks them questions. Mr Carlson said that was missing the point.
“Of course politicians can choose who they talk to,” he said. “All of us have that right, thank God. What politicians can’t do under any circumstance is attack an entire group of citizens on the basis of their skin colour. Again, to restate the obvious, that is racism.”
Mr Carlson is no stranger to accusations of racism himself. The right-wing pundit has recently come under fire for promoting “replacement theory”, an anti-immigrant conspiracy theory popular among white nationalists, on his prime time show.
But that didn’t cause him to mince words about Ms Lightfoot.
“There’s nothing confusing about who Lori Lightfoot is,” the host said. “Lori Lightfoot is a dangerous bigot.”
One journalist to whom Ms Lightfoot’s office did offer an interview was Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt, who is Latino. Upon getting her answer, Mr Pratt said he asked the mayor to change her policy.
“I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today,” Mr Pratt tweeted. “However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully cancelled. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.”