Business Insider Edition

Bloomberg News says it will not investigate Michael Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals during the presidential campaign

Ellen Cranley , Business Insider US
 Nov 25, 2019, 07:44 PM
Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Christian Cultural Center on November 17, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
  • Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait set out the news organisation's coverage guidelines after its owner, Michael Bloomberg, announced he was running in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Micklethwait wrote that the outlet will avoid investigating Bloomberg's personal life and finances while he is campaigning, and would extend the same courtesy to the other Democratic candidates.
  • The outlet will also apparently stop publishing unsigned Bloomberg Opinion editorials, as they are shaped by the views of Bloomberg News as an institution, and now-candidate Bloomberg's personal positions.
  • The policy is a continuation of the outlet's current stance but may present a concerning imbalance that could see stories focused on President Donald Trump emphasised over other 2020 hopefuls.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Bloomberg News says it will not publish unsigned editorials, and its reporters will avoid investigating owner Michael Bloomberg's personal life and finances while he is in the running for the 2020 presidential election.

The billionaire and former mayor of New York City has already had a turbulent few weeks since news broke that he was contemplating entering the race, but made it official on Sunday with the first of $30 million in TV ads.

Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait sent a memo to news staffers after Bloomberg's official announcement in order to layout guidelines for avoiding any conflict of interest.

Micklethwait detailed some leadership changes to accommodate the outlet's unique situation as well as expectations for how the staff will cover its owner during the primaries.

"So Mike is running," Micklethwait wrote. "There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves (and very rarely about our direct competitors). No previous presidential candidate has owned a journalistic organisation of this size."

Micklethwait noted that the publication would continue its "tradition" put in place during Bloomberg's time as mayor of not investigating his personal background, his family, or his wealth. Micklethwait stressed that the outlet would also "extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries," although it would continue to investigate the Trump administration as it has been.

Observers have noted that this could lead to an imbalance in Bloomberg News' reporting that could see it emphasise stories focused on Trump, his family, and his organisation while possible developments involving Bloomberg and a crowded field of other Democratic candidates could go unmentioned.

But Micklethwait said Bloomberg News would publish investigations involving other Democratic candidates from "credible journalistic institutions," without identifying the criteria that make an outlet credible.

He added that the outlet will stop publishing unsigned Bloomberg Opinion editorials, as they are shaped by the views of Bloomberg News as an institution, and now-candidate Bloomberg's personal positions. The two executive editors of the opinion section, David Shipley and Tim O'Brien, will take a leave of absence and join the owner's campaign.

The outlet's awkward place in covering its owner was previously highlighted in a 2011 profile by The New York Times, which detailed Bloomberg News journalist Henry Goldman's role in covering his boss for the news site, which The Times deemed "inherently problematic."

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