A leading figure in Chicago's black media establishment has caused a stir with some harsh remarks directed at the President and his inner circle.
Hermene Hartman, publisher and editor-in-chief of N'DIGO magazine, made the remarks in an interview with Chicago magazine's Carol Felsenthal last week. In it, she accused President Obama of leaving the black Chicago leaders who launched him to national prominence out in the cold, and described him as "not necessarily loyal."
Some excerpts from that interview:
CF: What’s your relationship with the Obamas?
HH: It used to be good. It used to be superb before they got to the White House. I haven’t been invited, and I’m insulted. ....
Barack was launched by black businesspeople. I call them the “Day One people.” We’ve not been to the White House; we’ve not had appointments. I have barked a little bit about it. ...
Barack is not necessarily loyal. In Chicago politics, that’s rule number one: be loyal; dance with the one who brought you. I see that as a key trait. I see Rahm having it. Rahm is very appreciative and very thankful. I was very loyal to Barack, but he has not been loyal to some of the people who were there for him from day one. That’s my personal disappointment in him. Did you outgrow us, or did you forget?
The comments have drawn some national attention, appearing in USA Today's White House blog, The Oval, Tuesday afternoon. A number of local sources have also commented on the interview. Lynn Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times mentioned the piece on her blog. NBC Chicago saw it as an example that Obama is "getting [criticism] from unexpected quarters -- Chicago's black elite."
And Chicagoist pulled no punches in its analysis of Hartman's comments: "Apparently, Hartmann fancies herself a kingmaker," the blog writes in a piece titled "N'DIGO Publisher Talks Out Of Class About Obama." "Lucky for Hartmann she has a weekly magazine that focuses on local African American bourgeois — sorry, 'the black urban agenda' — to voice her displeasure."
Hartman spoke favorably about Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel throughout the interview. Early in the political campaign, she wrote a blog post on this site describing Emanuel as a "suspect candidate": "Rahm Emanuel might be a great mind and a national presence, but he does not appear authentic," she wrote. "We do not want a dictator. We want a live fish that can swim," a reference to Emanuel's history with dead fish.
Later in the campaign season, though, when Emanuel was clearly the front-runner in the race, Hartman announced that N'DIGO was endorsing his candidacy.
In the interview, Hartman also said she is a member of Emanuel's inauguration committee.
Read Felsenthal's entire interview with Hartman here.