After businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a last-minute entry into the Democratic primary, John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of the media organization Bloomberg, announced in a company-wide memo that journalists would not be allowed to investigate any of the Democratic primary candidates.
Micklethwait also mentioned, however, that the same policy would not extend to President Trump.
“We cannot treat Mike[ Bloomberg’s] Democratic competitors differently than him,” reads the memo, which was obtained by CNN. “For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day. If Mike emerges as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that.”
Brad Parscale, the Trump 2020 campaign manager, has called the decision “to formalize preferential reporting policies” both “troubling and wrong.”
“Bloomberg News has declared that they won’t investigate their boss or his Democrat competitors, many of whom are current holders of high office, but will continue critical reporting on President Trump,” said Parscale in a statement, according to Axios. “As President Trump’s campaign, we are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organizations don’t announce their biases so publicly.”
“Since they have declared their bias so openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events,” continues Parscale. “We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis.”
Kathy Kiely, a former editor at Bloomberg, says she resigned after receiving similar instructions from the news agency in 2016, when the businessman was also mulling a presidential run, according to CNN.
“The same sort of directions were given, only it was not yet an official campaign, but I felt that that wasn’t ethical, and it was just an untenable situation for me as the assigning editor to be in,” said Kiely. “Unfortunately, they’ve had four years to think about this, and they haven’t come up with a better solution. I’m really sorry to see this.”
Kiely also called the press “a public trust” and insisted that “most people who own news organizations understand” that they aren’t designed to serve the owners, but rather to serve the general public.
According to The Wrap, Bloomberg told radio host O. Kay Henderson last year that if he were to run for president, he would either sell the news agency or place it in a public trust, elaborating that he doesn’t believe an organization can remain independent.
“I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me. I don’t want them to be independent,” said Bloomberg, reports The Wrap.
Bloomberg is currently embarking on an advertising blitz across the country to raise awareness about his presidential campaign, and has spent $52 million on television ads overall, according to Advertising Analytics. Unlike other candidates, Bloomberg is ignoring the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, opting instead to focus his efforts on states that vote on Super Tuesday — which takes place on March 3rd and includes California, Texas, and North Carolina.