After former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially joined the Democratic presidential primary, Bloomberg News announced that it would continue its ‘tradition of not investigating Mike.”
In a letter obtained by CNN, Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief, John Micklethwait, addressed concerns about the news organization’s independence from its founder and now presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait just sent this note to staffers: "There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves…" pic.twitter.com/RvfvpsZgDV— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 24, 2019
Micklethwait admitted that keep coverage fair and independent would not be easy, but he laid out a series of steps designed to keep campaign coverage balanced and not appear biased in favor of Bloomberg.
“So, Mike is running. There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves (and very rarely about our direct competitors). No previous presidential candidate has owned a journalistic organization of this size. We have electoral laws to follow — to do with both balance and opinion. We will certainly obey them, but I think we need to do more than just that.”
One of the changes includes the suspension of its Editorial Board during the election. Micklethwait notes that several members of the Board are close to Bloomberg and will leave to work on his campaign. Additionally, he said the Board would not run Op-Eds about the election.
“The place where Mike has had the most contact with Editorial is Bloomberg Opinion: our editorials have reflected his views. David Shipley, Tim O’Brien, and some members of the Board responsible for those editorials will take a leave of absence to join Mike’s campaign. We will suspend the Board, so there will be no unsigned editorials. Our columnists, who produce the majority of Bloomberg Opinion’s content, will continue to speak for themselves, and we will continue to take some op-ed articles from outsiders (although not op-eds on the election).”
Finally, Micklethwait added that Bloomberg will “continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation.) He also said Bloomberg will not investigate any of the other Democratic candidates, “We will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him.”
If Bloomberg wins the Democratic nomination, Micklethwait said the news outlet will “reassess” its coverage of him and the Republican nominee during the general election.
He added that he is aware there will be many “complexities,” but said that he wants the staff to continue its work without debating the merits of the policy, “I would rather that we got on with the journalism and let that speak for itself. So write, blog, broadcast — and the rest will take care of itself.”