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Bloomberg News’s Dilemma: How to Cover a President Seeking Presidency

John McClthwaite, editor of Bloomberg News, entered his Washington office Friday morning in December on a daunting mission: explaining to political journalists how to cover a presidential campaign when the president is a candidate.

In his speech to about 100 journalists who leaked out from a conference room with glass walls, Mr. McCarthowitt said that Michael R. Bloomberg to the Democratic Race did not change his commitment to skeptical coverage. “We always knew it would be difficult,” he told the group. “But we’re actually showing what we are: an independent news organization.”

Not every reporter was comfortable. Competing candidates attacked journalists’ coverage as biased; some sources stopped returning calls. One of the reporters said that the office’s credibility was at stake, citing Mr. McCarthow’s general memo that Bloomberg News would refrain from “investigating” Mr. Bloomberg and his Democratic rivals.

Mr. McClthwaite said he was referring to a team of journalists specializing in investigations rather than to the broader political staff, but he rejected requests by reporters in the room for an explanation. Many reporters left feeling unsure of how to proceed, according to a number of people who described a previously unreported city council meeting.

Two months later, the stress and anxiety inside Bloomberg News increased. Journalists were hoping that Mr. Bloomberg’s nomination would prove that a short time they saw him in the basement of the upper class of the democratic race. Now there are discussions about what President Bloomberg could mean for a news organization already suffering from a potential conflict of interest.

There is little precedent for a media magnate responsible for a major news operation seeking a presidential office, despite William Randolph Hurst, Democratic candidate in 1904, Enjoy coverage of cheerleading from his network of newspapers.

But Mr Bloomberg is on the horizon for 2,700 journalists in his financial statements company. New employees receive a copy of his resume, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” and the company’s guidelines prohibit covering “his wealth or personal life.” In 2018, Mr. Bloomberg He said to interview: “I don’t want the reporters I pay to write a bad story about me.”

This policy has proven critical during Mr. Bloomberg’s three states as Mayor of New York City and in his later life as a billionaire philanthropist and political benefactor. Now, it goes beyond the indefensible boundaries, according to interviews with half a dozen Bloomberg reporters who asked not to be identified, citing fear of retaliation against presidents who assert discretion.

When Mr. Bloomberg announced his candidacy in November, Mr. McCarthowitt, an Oxford University graduate and editor of The Economist, pledged in a note he sent to employees that the news outlet “will write about almost all aspects of this presidential contest. The same way we have done so far”. But he said that Mr. Bloomberg would remain out of the investigation, “and we will present the same policy to his opponents in the Democratic primary.”

Bloomberg News campaign correspondents work separately from the news store’s projects and investigations team. But the memo was widely seen as a sign that Bloomberg News would stop accountability coverage of the democratic field, even when Bloomberg executives described it as a misunderstanding.

Mr. McClthwaite told reporters in the December City Hall that the Bloomberg News administration did not prevent the publication of any political story. “If you look at what we do and the pieces that we write, any doubt that we are reporting this forcefully will disappear,” he said.

However, political correspondents at Bloomberg News say the memo left them open to undue criticism from readers and their campaign aides. They express their frustration because it indicates a level of internal control that they say does not reflect their experience.

In December, the director published an article indicating this Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amazon criticized the Amazon While the company paid for services. It was a story set according to the standards of the presidential race, where the simple expenses are a fair game for journalists. But the candidates and their allies captured the story for Accuses Bloomberg News Bias.

There was a cry from Trump’s team, too.

Because Mr Micklethwait said in the memo that his staff will continue to investigate the White House “as today’s government,” the Trump campaign named Bloomberg News is biased and has prevented it from covering its events. On Iowa caucuses day, Bloomberg’s reporter was Jennifer Jacobs Escort from Trump’s press conference outside Des Moines. (Mr. McClthwaite said in a statement last year that “the Trump campaign’s concerns” could not be further from the truth.)

Journalists are also fighting the notion that Bloomberg News is part of its president’s political process.

Two of the company took opinion opinion reporters, Timothy L. O’Brien and David Shipley, who previously worked for the New York Times, are on vacation to join the Bloomberg campaign. One editor at Bloomberg News Climbed into the campaignAs well, with a handful of employees on the TV and video production side.

Mr. McClthwaite has not been in contact with Mr. Bloomberg or his campaign since his bid was announced, according to a Bloomberg News spokeswoman.

Discrimination did not prevent critics like Mrs. Warren from accusing Mr. Bloomberg of betraying the first amendment. “He must allow journalists to perform their jobs and report on him, and anyone else, as they deem appropriate,” said Ms. Warren. Books on Twitter Last month, he added, “This ban puts reporters in an impossible position and undermines press freedom.”

Mr. McCarthowitt declined to be interviewed for this article. A spokeswoman for Bloomberg News said in a statement: “Over the past 30 years, editorial independence has been at the heart of Bloomberg News. We are proud of more than 760 articles published by Bloomberg News on elections and candidates, not to mention a series of radio interviews, where Mike Bloomberg announced that he is running in elections The presidency. “

To reassure readers, the news outlet updates “Election coverage snapshotOn her website, quoting a promise “to be as transparent as possible” about electoral coverage. Bloomberg News carries coverage of Mr. Bloomberg written by competitors, such as The Times and The Washington Post, only on his subscription stations.

A Bloomberg News reporter was assigned full time to cover Mr. Bloomberg’s presentation: Mark Niket, a veteran correspondent based in Columbus, Ohio, who previously covered infrastructure.

Never fail to report negative developments. Last week, his sideline appeared on top An article of 600 words About a 2015 audio recording of Mr. Bloomberg praising the police for the pause and malaise. On Sunday, Mr. Niket co-wrote a story about her concerns Mr. Bloomberg “Comments about the police, women and race”.

Mr. Niket, who travels to many of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign events, has published a critical insight into Mr. Bloomberg’s economic, health and infrastructure plans. Under the title “Bloomberg provides little detail to support trillions of spending.”

In Washington, in the December City Hall, Mr. McCarthowitt said he was used to hearing complaints about conflicts of interest. Wall Street executives cited dissatisfaction with Bloomberg News’s coverage of their companies – companies that spend large sums to access Bloomberg’s financial statements.

As for the challenges of covering his boss, Mr. McClthwaite has indicated that Mr. Bloomberg’s second political work may last anywhere from a few months to nine years.

It was a point not to be lost on the reporters who gathered in front of him. Mr. Bloomberg’s prospect at the White House has become another issue of great concern to Bloomberg News reporters.

If Mr. Bloomberg, as he had meditated in the past, sold his company if he was elected, some journalists believed that the new owner might not be willing to support the extravagant news gathering process that was ultimately linked to the company’s primary product, the financial data stations that request Emirati subscription amounts From the investment category.

And if President Bloomberg clings to his media establishment, how will Bloomberg News reporters cover Washington and a federal administration dominated by the man ultimately responsible for their salaries?

The company has refused to comment on these questions, and reporters there say it is too early to start seriously preparing for such a possibility.

As for Mr. Bloomberg himself, CBS News asked him in December about his employees ’concerns that he would not be allowed to investigate his rivals in the presidential race.

“You just have to learn to live with a few things,” said Mr Bloomberg to presenter Gayle King. “They get a salary. But with your salary comes some restrictions and responsibilities.”

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