Cherelle Parker Does Not Care About Local Media

Since the conclusion of the 2023 May Democratic Mayoral primary, Democratic nominee Cherelle Parker has been conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. It’s been rare to see her publicly and rarer still to hear her speak substantively on any political issue.

Here at Hall Monitor, we have been attempting to schedule time to speak with Candidate Parker since May. When we have received a response to our inquiries, we have been politely pushed off. Last week, Parker’s Campaign Manager, Neftali Ramos, called me to discuss possible interview dates.

I asked for an interview for this week’s show. He responded to me via email looking for a date in October. Fine, I said. We can do that.

On Thursday, Ramos introduced me to the campaign’s new spokesman, John Dolan via email. Here is the introduction verbatim:

Hey Lawrence,

On this email I’ve added our Deputy Campaign Manager, John Dolan. He is also the person that focuses on Comms for the campaign. He’ll be taking point on the conversation we had about trying to schedule an interview with Cherelle.

There was nothing objectionable about this at all.

But what came next, however, was a bit of a surprise.

You see, Neftali John, and Aren Platt, a Parker campaign operative who also handles communications, copied me on an internal email. Apparently, they were discussing Hall Monitor’s interview request and somehow didn’t realize they had sent their entire conversation to me. Here it is below, with annotations for context.

Keep in mind that both Denise Clay-Murray and I had been repeatedly requesting interviews.

John Dolan: I would suggest pushing off Lawrence and moving forward with Denise. I can slow roll him for a few weeks.

Aren Platt: Let’s push her off without letting her know… “Denise, I’m working on getting this scheduled, give me a week or so…”

Just be careful because she has already said that we are ignoring Black women journalists and truly independent media – irrespective of other circumstances. But we don’t want this to be too much of a narrative.

John Dolan: Let me talk with Denise Clay-Murray tomorrow. She wants to do a profile and we just answered a bunch of questions for her. Obviously defer to Aren, but I’m disinclined to do all the requests from both Denise + Lawrence for pieces that won’t get much coverage.

Now-there are several insulting comments in just this small exchange. Let’s begin with Dolan suggesting he can “slow roll us” for a few weeks. It’s almost as though he doesn’t think we understand how this works. They’ve been slow rolling us for literally months. And when people don’t want to talk, they simply keep suggesting later dates for possible interviews until, poof! We ran out of time. Please.

And then Aren Platt’s gem about pushing Denise off, and even suggesting the language to use! Again-as if Denise is stupid and doesn’t understand the game they have been playing. But the piece-de-resistance here is the statement they don’t want their ignoring of Black women journalists to become a narrative. The brilliant way they address this is to plainly state they intend to ignore a Black, female, journalist!

And finally, they suggest the stories and interviews we produce about Candidate Parker will not “get much coverage.” Something tells me this one will.

One of the big issues here, of course, is the denigration of local media. At time when local media outlets are dropping like flies, a big-time, historical, political campaign is ignoring media that asks important and difficult questions. The utter contempt expressed here is appalling, but what’s more appalling is the lack of respect this campaign exhibits towards the public.

This is what the Parker campaign thinks of YOU. By not campaigning throughout the summer, and by lying to local media about possible interviews, this campaign does not think you deserve answers to the important questions.

We need to expect more from our leaders, and this is one attempt to hide too many.

We don’t know if Ms. Parker agreed to this strategy or not, but unless we hear something else, we have to assume the decision was hers.


Last night, Parker released the following statement:

To say that I’m pissed and angry is an understatement.

The dismissive tone of my staff is not consistent with who I am or what I expect from my team, and I have made it clear that this is entirely unacceptable. However, I understand the buck stops with me and I take responsibility for what comes out of my campaign.

I’ve talked this evening with the president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ), Ernest Owens, to make my position clear and reiterate my commitment to giving a seat at the table to those who have been historically excluded.

But as I’ve said countless times, judge me by my actions.

After my election night medical emergency, when the doctors said I was not yet ok to come out of my house, I made it a priority to go to the PABJ event to reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that Black journalists will have unprecedented access in a Parker administration.

This is how I have always run my office and this is how I plan to govern if it is God’s will and I am elected Mayor of Philadelphia.

At press time, neither Denise Clay-Murray nor any other member of Hall Monitor has been contacted by the Parker campaign. We are still looking to book our interview.

Our reporters sit through hours of city council meetings, dig through piles of documents, and ask tough questions other media overlook. Because we’re committed to addressing Philadelphia’s poverty crisis — and challenging those who sustain it. If you think this work is important too, please support our journalism.

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