Billionaire and Democrat megadonor Michael Bloomberg officially announced on Sunday that he was joining the presidential race, which led to an announcement from his news organization, Bloomberg News, that it would not investigate the 77-year-old and would not investigate other Democrats.
In a statement to Bloomberg News employees, Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait wrote: “The place where Mike has had the most contact with Editorial is Bloomberg Opinion: our editorials have reflected his views. David Shipley, Tim O’Brien and some members of the Board responsible for those editorials will take a leave of absence to join Mike’s campaign. We will suspend the Board, so there will be no unsigned editorials.”
The note continued by stating that Bloomberg’s newsroom will not be “investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him. … For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration as the government of the day. If Mike is chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that.”
Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi noted that “Seven journalists from Bloomberg Opinion, including the two top editors, @davidjshipley and @TimOBrien, will join Mike Bloomberg’s campaign, company says. Unclear what their roles will be. Shipley is a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton.”
One add here: Seven journalists from Bloomberg Opinion, including the two top editors, @davidjshipley and @TimOBrien, will join Mike Bloomberg’s campaign, company says. Unclear what their roles will be. Shipley is a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton.
— Paul Farhi (@farhip) November 24, 2019
“I think this is a structure that can cope with many eventualities,” Micklethwait wrote. “No doubt many of you are already thinking of possible complexities that may arise. My response is: let’s get back to work. We can spend a long time debating ‘what ifs.’ I would rather that we got on with the journalism and let that speak for itself. So write, blog, broadcast – and the rest will take care of itself.”
Kathleen Bartzen Culver, Director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told The Washington Post: “My main concern is with the ‘show not tell’ approach. I would do both. Keep the journalism independent but tell readers how and why it is. . . . Why wouldn’t they craft a set of statements about how they’re going to operationalize fairness and independence here and link to it in all coverage? I imagine such statements would look a lot like this reassurance to staff, but they’d instead be reassuring the public.”
Bloomberg, who is the ninth richest person in the world, immediately began airing advertisements promoting his campaign as part of an initial wave of “$34 million in reservations so far, touching parts of all but two of the lower 48 states,” Politico reported.
Bloomberg has repeatedly defended communist China, including in a recent interview on PBS’s “Firing Line With Margaret Hoover.”
“The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China and they listen to the public,” Bloomberg said. “When the public says ‘I can’t breathe the air,’ Xi Jinping is not a dictator, he has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive.”
“He’s not a dictator?” Hoover fired back.
“No,” Bloomberg responded. “He has a constituency to answer to.”
“He doesn’t have a vote. He doesn’t have a democracy. He’s not held accountable by voters,” Hoover pressed. “Is the check on him just a revolution?”
“You’re not going to have a revolution. No government survives without the will of the majority of its people,” Bloomberg responded as he became defensive. “Okay?”
Bloomberg also was dismissive in the interview of the pro-democracy protests by demonstrators in Hong Kong.