Bloomberg News reveals role it will play during co-founder’s presidential campaign

By: Brendan Monroe
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Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that he is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination has left many wondering what role his media corporation, Bloomberg L.P., might play in the race. Bloomberg told an Iowa radio host last year that he would sell his media company were he to run, explaining that in a situation such as this, a media company “can’t be independent and nobody’s going to believe that you’re independent.”

However, to date, Bloomberg has maintained his stake in Bloomberg L.P. and doesn’t appear likely to sell anytime soon.

What position has the company taken?

John Micklethwait, Bloomberg News’s editor-in-chief, released a memo stating the company’s position at the outset of its co-founder’s decision to run. “We will describe who is winning and who is losing,” Micklethwait wrote. “We will look at policies and their consequences. We will carry polls, we will interview candidates and we will track their campaigns, including Mike’s (Michael). We have already assigned a reporter to follow his campaign (just as we did when Mike was in City Hall). And in the stories we write on the presidential contest, we will make clear that our owner is now a candidate.”

The memo goes on to state that Bloomberg News will not be conducting in-depth investigations into Bloomberg’s campaign, nor those of his Democratic rivals. Furthermore, Bloomberg Opinion will suspend publication of unsigned editorials while Bloomberg is a candidate – as such editorials have been presumed to reflect the opinions of Bloomberg himself, and a number of the newsroom’s editorialists will take leaves of absence to join Bloomberg’s campaign. 

How has the Trump campaign responded?

President Trump’s re-election campaign reported on Monday, December 2 that journalists from Bloomberg News would be barred from attending the president’s rallies and other political events. In a statement released by President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, the decision to ban Bloomberg News from the president’s political events is due to perceived bias on the part of the news organization. “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,” Parscale wrote.

President Trump chimed in with a Twitter post in which he called Bloomberg News a “third rate news organization” and added that it was “not O.K.!” for the media company to refuse to investigate his Democratic presidential rivals.

What impact are we seeing on the race? 

Bloomberg purchased over $30 million in broadcast television ads for the week ending December 3rd – more than $29 million that of his fellow billionaire and Democratic candidate, Tom Steyer – and, according to Democratic top advisor Howard Wolfson, that could be just the tip of the iceberg. “Mike is prepared to spend what it takes to defeat Donald Trump,” Wolfson said. 

It’s still early, but a new Hill-HarrisX poll shows Bloomberg in fifth place with 6% – ahead of many within the Democratic field but still several points behind the leaders. The Bloomberg campaign plans to be investing heavily in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses on February 3, when the first votes will be cast in the 2020 Democratic primary elections.