Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Steps In It With Hot Mic

Erik Bernstein crisis communications

A hot mic captured Mayor Lori Lightfoot calling a Fraternal Order of Police vice president an “FOP clown” during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, but she later apologized and acknowledged it was inappropriate for her “to say that out loud.”

As Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Patrick Murray approached the microphone available for people to speak during public comment, Lightfoot was overheard on the dais saying, “Back again. This is this FOP clown.”

At her post-meeting news conference, reporters asked Lightfoot about the comment and she said, “It was not appropriate for me to say that out loud.”

Asked if she’d apologize, Lightfoot said, “I think I just did. I think I said I shouldn’t have said that out loud.”

She was asked a third time about an apology and replied, “I’m sorry that I said it out loud.”

As recapped in this quote from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the latest to demonstrate the truism that a spokesperson must assume that the microphone is always on. Then she went for a crisis wrong-way double-header by merely apologizing for insulting the union rep out loud – not for insulting him!

While the mayor’s relationship with that union is already fractious, this mini-crisis should have been avoided altogether. These were beginner-level spokesperson errors and if she’s been media trained at any point, and I have to assume she has been, she has forgotten those lessons.

The goal, Mayor Lightfoot, is to communicate with compassion, confidence and competence. At this point, you look confident about your lack of compassion and competence.

Jonathan Bernstein