New York City's little Berlusconi

While all of this has made Bloomberg obscenely wealthy, landing him at No. 10 on the annual Forbes list of richest Americans, it hasn’t satiated his desire for greater control of the news industry. The Times reports that Bloomberg had previously “commissioned a study to assess whether The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or The Financial Times would potentially become available” for purchase. At the least, the endless rounds of stories about Bloomberg’s ambitions are a reason for reporters elsewhere not to go out of their way to bite the hand that could one day feed them.

And Bloomberg has a long history of commingling his interests as a businessman with his public role and ambitions. The year before he first ran for mayor, his charity doubled its giving and began redirecting it to New York institutions. His eponymous news company also opened a new division to cover the city. New Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Capeheart, poached from the Daily News editorial board, moonlighted as Bloomberg’s “policy advisor and tutor, drilling him with flashcards, and introducing him to other journalists, and black and gay New Yorkers,” former New York Times City Hall bureau chief Joyce Purnick dryly noted in Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics…

While it’s doubtful that Bloomberg micromanages political messaging from his opinion website, it is nevertheless clear that its editors rarely cross wires with the boss—and that they don’t mind writing pieces that seem likely to please him. In one notable instance, columnist Jonathan Alter penned an attack on one of the mayor’s most prominent critics, New York University professor Diane Ravitch, who helped puncture Bloomberg’s claims of “historical” public-education progress. Alter called her “the leader” of “the forces of the status quo … [o]bstructionists with a talent for caricature,” before the coup de grace: “[T]he education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers.” Nowhere did Alter mention that Ravitch had clashed, repeatedly and prominently, with the man who signed his checks, and under whose name the attack ran.