The Corner

Elections

Bloomberg News Muddles Through in a Weird, Rare Situation

Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg speaks during the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

What should happen at a news organization when the person who owns the company runs for president?

Bloomberg News is muddling through by discontinuing unsigned editorials — the institutional voice of the organization — but keeping all the regular columnists, like our friend Ramesh Ponnuru, in place. Top editors David Shipley and Tim O’Brien will take leaves of absence to join the Bloomberg campaign. (If you’ve ever scoffed, “this editorial reads like it was written by a Bloomberg presidential campaign staffer . . .” it turns out you were right!)

Bloomberg News staff are no longer doing investigative work on the other Democratic primary challengers… but are continuing to investigate President Trump. Republicans are going to grumble about this, contending that Bloomberg News is turning into a giant opposition research and publicity wing for Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.

But A) asking a news organization to refrain from covering anything related to Trump for the next twelve months is practically asking them to stop covering politics and government entirely and B) face it, most Republicans thought these guys were a giant opposition research and publicity wing for Bloomberg anyway, so these moves don’t change much.

It’s easy to understand the frustration of Bloomberg News reporters in this situation, but every other alternative would have created another set of problems.

The memo announcing the policy noted, “We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.” In other words, no, Bloomberg News never did investigative journalism digging into any problems and potential scandals of the man who founded the company.

Over at the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan wishes that Bloomberg “entirely recused himself from decision-making or influence at the news organization — saying, in effect, ‘cover me like anyone else and do it with journalistic integrity.’” Yes, it would be nice if he did that, but you’re just not going to find many wealthy media moguls willing to finance journalism that exposes their own flaws. On the long list of problems with Michael Bloomberg, his unwillingness to pay for reporters digging into himself seems pretty low on the list.

With the former mayor running, Bloomberg News now cannot go ahead with a giant expose of Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. Oftentimes accusations are in the eye of the beholder, but in this case, the reporters would actually be getting paid (indirectly) by another candidate.

Sullivan points to the Washington Post’s coverage of its owner, Jeff Bezos and Amazon, as an example that Bloomberg and his news organization could follow. But fairly or not, even the Post’s critical coverage of Bezos and Amazon will be eyed warily by some because of his ownership. No matter how tough the paper’s coverage is, some readers will always be wondering if the story was softened at all out of fear of irking the boss. And any Post scoop about Amazon will be perceived by some skeptics as a strategic leak of some kind.

Most news consumers are sophisticated enough to realize that news institutions are not likely to be fierce critics of the man who owns them, particularly when they share the same name. You’re no more likely to find a “why Mike Bloomberg would make a terrible president” column on the site that bears his name than a “why Steve Forbes is history’s greatest monster” in his business magazine in the mid-1990s.

Bloomberg News didn’t have any great answers here. But it’s a safe bet that some of his employees are hoping he quits the race as quickly as possible.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Knives Out Takes On the Anti-Immigration Crowd

Since the beginning of the Obama era, the Left has broadcast two contradictory messages on the subjects of race and immigration. The first is that a so-called Coalition of the Ascendant will inevitably displace white Americans as the dominant force in the country’s politics and culture. The second is that ... Read More
Film & TV

Knives Out Takes On the Anti-Immigration Crowd

Since the beginning of the Obama era, the Left has broadcast two contradictory messages on the subjects of race and immigration. The first is that a so-called Coalition of the Ascendant will inevitably displace white Americans as the dominant force in the country’s politics and culture. The second is that ... Read More
From left: Harvard University's Noah Feldman, Stanford University's Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina's Michael Gerhardt, and George Washington University's Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, December 4, 2019.

The Impeachment Eye Test

To put it mildly, the 1960s were not notorious for juridical modesty. They might compare favorably, though, to Wednesday’s episode of “The Lawyer Left Does Impeachment” at the House Judiciary Committee. Oh, I have no doubt that the three progressive constitutional scholars spotlighted by Democrats yearn in ... Read More
From left: Harvard University's Noah Feldman, Stanford University's Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina's Michael Gerhardt, and George Washington University's Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, December 4, 2019.

The Impeachment Eye Test

To put it mildly, the 1960s were not notorious for juridical modesty. They might compare favorably, though, to Wednesday’s episode of “The Lawyer Left Does Impeachment” at the House Judiciary Committee. Oh, I have no doubt that the three progressive constitutional scholars spotlighted by Democrats yearn in ... Read More
Culture

The Absurd Crusade against the Salvation Army

We all know some individuals who are so obviously good and kind that we are certain if anyone were to dislike them, that's all we would need to know about the person. We would immediately assume he or she is a bad person. To hate the manifestly good is a sure sign of being bad. Such is the case regarding the ... Read More
Culture

The Absurd Crusade against the Salvation Army

We all know some individuals who are so obviously good and kind that we are certain if anyone were to dislike them, that's all we would need to know about the person. We would immediately assume he or she is a bad person. To hate the manifestly good is a sure sign of being bad. Such is the case regarding the ... Read More
Elections

It’s Not Because She’s a Woman

In early October, Elizabeth Warren hit her stride. Her stock in the Democratic primary had been climbing steadily since midsummer, and as Joe Biden continued to lag, the Massachusetts senator became the first presidential hopeful to overtake him as front-runner in the RealClearPolitics polling average. She’s ... Read More
Elections

It’s Not Because She’s a Woman

In early October, Elizabeth Warren hit her stride. Her stock in the Democratic primary had been climbing steadily since midsummer, and as Joe Biden continued to lag, the Massachusetts senator became the first presidential hopeful to overtake him as front-runner in the RealClearPolitics polling average. She’s ... Read More
Film & TV

Clint Eastwood’s Messy, Nuanced Triumph

After a pipe bomb exploded at a concert held to celebrate the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta’s Centennial Park, the FBI came to suspect that the security guard who discovered the device might have planted it to gain a reputation as a hero. The knotty story of that security guard, Richard Jewell, does not lend itself ... Read More
Film & TV

Clint Eastwood’s Messy, Nuanced Triumph

After a pipe bomb exploded at a concert held to celebrate the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta’s Centennial Park, the FBI came to suspect that the security guard who discovered the device might have planted it to gain a reputation as a hero. The knotty story of that security guard, Richard Jewell, does not lend itself ... Read More
White House

Nancy Pelosi’s Case

Further to the post below, a couple of thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s statement yesterday. She said this near the beginning: During the constitutional convention, James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, warned that a president might betray his trust to foreign powers which might prove fatal to the ... Read More
White House

Nancy Pelosi’s Case

Further to the post below, a couple of thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s statement yesterday. She said this near the beginning: During the constitutional convention, James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, warned that a president might betray his trust to foreign powers which might prove fatal to the ... Read More