Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot berated reporters during a press conference addressing the shooting death of officer Ella French on Wednesday, saying the media is in a “race to the bottom” and that their reporting on her in recent days has been “sickening.”
Two brothers have been arrested and charged in the fatal shooting of 29-year-old French during a traffic stop Saturday night. More than two dozen Chicago police officers turned their backs when greeted by Lightfoot late Saturday at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where French’s partner remains in critical condition.
Asked to address the officers’ protest, Lightfoot lamented that “we are living in a time where people don’t respect each other.”
“Larger than that is this moment where people feel like it is their right to spew hatred at everyone that they don’t agree with or make fun and mock, usually anonymously and cowardly from social media, not confronting somebody directly and talking to them, but using the power of the pen and the keyboard to just spew unbelievable hate,” she said.
“So this is a larger question than what may have happened with 10 or 15 officers on Saturday night,” she continued. “It’s why do we think it is OK for people to engage in such nasty, vicious talk, orally or worse, on social media, and then have it repeated by media as if it is fact and true.
“I think our media plays a very important role in our democracy, but you lose me, you lose me when it’s a race to the bottom and it’s all about the fight and it’s all about the conflict,” she said. “I’ve got to tell you, some of the reporting I’ve seen this week is just sickening. We all need to ask ourselves what we can do better to show our people everywhere that we have the capacity to be human beings again.”
Lightfoot got visibly irritated after another reporter asked her about reports that First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter rushed French’s funeral procession by calling off a traditional honor guard and bagpipe salute.
“The reporting on that is just not true,” the mayor said. “It’s not true.”
Lightfoot cited “COVID protocols” by the Medical Examiner’s Office and claimed a protest group that “wanted to hijack the procession” complicated matters outside of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
However, a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s Office told WGN News that “protocols for processions at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office have not changed since the pandemic began.”
Lightfoot vehemently defended Carter’s decision to skip the tradition.
“Eric Carter made the right call,” she said. “I support what he did. And I’m horrified that in this moment, people are trying to savage him for whatever agenda or purpose.
“And I would just caution you all. Be careful. Be careful,” she said. “Check your sources. Make sure they’re accurate. Get the right context. Because I know firsthand, it’s really hard when the media becomes ferocious in propagating a story that’s just not true.”
Lightfoot then lashed out at another reporter who cited reports she “forced” her way upstairs at the hospital against the injured officer’s wishes.
“I’m not going to respond to that,” she said. “I don’t force my way anywhere. And that’s offensive, frankly, that you would ask me that question. … I just sat here and talked about the fact that we’ve got to be really careful and you have to be really careful in your reporting and be responsible. And you just keep lobbing this nonsense that’s offensive and insulting and really does a disservice to the moment that we’re in.
“Give me a break,” she added. “What else are you going to mine from the bottom of the chum barrel? Come on. You’re better than that. You’re better than that. You’re better than that.”