A perfectly defensible move under the circumstances, although it does mean Trump won’t get to use this line at rallies:
I predict Trump rallies will include this: "Is there a Bloomberg reporter back there in the fake news section? They fly on Air Force One every day and chase me around but Little Mike won't let them investigate ANY Democrats. It's crooked as hell." https://t.co/yn7GFaYioj
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) November 24, 2019
If you haven’t followed the Bloomberg News saga, it boils down to an enormous conflict of interest that was created for a major American news agency when its owner, you-know-who, decided to jump into the Democratic race. What was the Bloomberg News team supposed to do about covering Michael Bloomberg? It could treat Bloomy like any other candidate and start sifting through his financials and personal relationships, although it hasn’t done that in the past when he’s run for office for fear of the awkwardness if it uncovered something. Or it could grant the other candidates the same exemption from scrutiny that it grants to Bloomberg and declare that it won’t investigate them either so long as he’s in the race. Both options are terrible. In the first scenario, the agency would be duty bound to sink its own boss by publishing any damaging information it uncovers. Who knows how vindictive he’d be afterward? In the second scenario, the agency would be neutered. Good reporters would be forced to sit on their hands if they got a hot tip about one of Bloomberg’s opponents lest they be accused of doing de facto oppo research for their employer.
To make matters worse, the president of the United States is a *potential* Bloomberg opponent. How are they supposed to treat him knowing that any Trump scandal they uncover now directly benefits their boss by improving his chances of winning the presidency in the highly, highly unlikely event that he wins the Democratic nomination? If they grant Trump the same exemption from investigation that they’ve granted to Bloomberg’s Dem opponents, it would mean Bloomberg News has an official policy of not publishing embarrassing information about the head of state even if doing so is in the public interest.
Bloomberg News decided that it would grant Bloomy’s primary opponents an exemption from investigative coverage but couldn’t grant that sort of exemption to a sitting president, setting up a double standard in which Democratic candidates get a free pass while the Republican nominee is scrutinized. That’s the sort of unworkable ethical nightmare Mike Bloomberg created for his own news agency by choosing to run despite having no realistic path to the nomination. Today the Trump campaign struck back, saying that if Bloomberg News can’t investigate — or won’t investigate — all candidates equally then they’ll no longer be credentialed for Trump campaign events.
“The decision by Bloomberg News to formalize preferential reporting policies is troubling and wrong.
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. As President Trump’s campaign, we are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organizations don’t announce their biases so publicly. Presented with this new policy from Bloomberg News, our campaign was forced to determine how to proceed.
Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events. We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis. This will remain the policy of the Trump campaign until Bloomberg News publicly rescinds its decision.”
— Brad Parscale
Same goes for us, said the RNC:
Media outlets should be independent and fair, and this decision proves that Bloomberg News is neither.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) December 2, 2019
Mike Bloomberg assured the world last week that he’d step away and turn leadership of Bloomberg News over to a management committee so long as he’s a candidate, which is his nod at the sort of blind trust politicians typically (but not always, per Trump’s case) use when their private assets face a conflict of interest from their pursuit of public office. But even as he was announcing that, several members of Bloomberg News’s editorial board were declaring that they’d take a leave of absence from the company to join Bloomberg’s campaign. With his left hand, Bloomy is trying to assert the news agency’s independence; with his right hand, he’s hiring the agency’s employees as political operatives. Frankly, it speaks volumes about both him and the higher-ups at Bloomberg News that neither party is insisting that the agency cover him like any other candidate. What are they all afraid that BN’s reporters will find?
You would think Bloomberg would want to emphasize the independence of his employees, if only as a contrast to Trump. No more cronyism, he might say. No more skewed coverage from favorable media like the president gets from Fox News. Mike Bloomberg is going to restore ethics and good government to the White House, and that begins by giving his own news agency a free hand in treating him just like everyone else. Instead he’s like, “Yeah, better that everyone’s scandals get suppressed than mine be exposed.”
Why can’t he just sell the company? He’s worth mega-billions and will turn 78 in less than three months. How much more glory does he hope to derive from being the owner of the news agency relative to how much the hundreds of journalists there who’ve worked hard for him over the years will receive from being allowed to do honest reporting on the 2020 race?
Honestly, if he’s going to burn through BN’s credibility for his vanity candidacy, he might as well make a bonfire of it and insist that the agency not only cover the race but show outlandish bias in his favor. If he went full Charles Foster Kane with it, at least it’d be fun. He’d probably have to replace scores of reporters after they quit in disgust at being deputized as glorified campaign propagandists, but that shouldn’t be hard. He can afford to pay any wage — and besides, America’s political class loves him to death as the sort of competent Wall-Street-friendly squishy center-left technocrat whom they see as ideal for American leadership. The cast and crew of “Morning Joe” would probably work for him for free. He should go all-in and turn Bloomberg News into his own personal campaign comms department. It’ll be a fine precedent for the next decade, when Mark Zuckerberg buys NBC and runs in 2024.