Billionaire "news" media mogul Michael Bloomberg is running for president. How will his Bloomberg News empire cover this?
Bloomberg News posted an article touting how much trouble President Donald Trump is in. It lustily listed all his scandals: "Lawmakers and prosecutors are looking at whether he abused the powers of the presidency, obstructed an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, engaged in fraudulent business practices, violated the emoluments clauses of the Constitution and defamed women by saying they lied about alleged sexual assaults."
That's how they cover Trump. How will they cover Bloomberg?
Bloomberg has a long-standing policy of banning his reporters from investigating him or his businesses. Now he's banning any investigation of him as a presidential candidate, along with all of his fellow Democratic candidates! How does this not look like a massive, credibility-crippling conflict of interest?
Oh, they'll cover the Democratic campaigns, the debates, the horse race in the polls, the candidate finance reports. But investigating the other Democratic candidates is banned.
Kevin Smith, executive director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University, nailed it when he said, as reported by the Washington Times: "This is so outlandish it has to be recognized as a historical collapse of ethical standards. This isn't just worthy of a future textbook case study, it needs immediate condemnation by the profession."
Former Bloomberg BusinessWeek editor Megan Murphy, an unabashed Trump-hating liberal, tweeted that she was presented "with a near identical 'memo' during his 2016 flirtation." She added, "And I was very clear that I would quit the second it ever saw the light of day." Can we expect any abrupt departures from the thousands of compromised employees of Bloomberg News?
We're not talking about the gaggle of editors at the top of Team Bloomberg who have joined and will join his presidential campaign as advisers. They were primarily on the opinion/commentary team. But some, like Tim O'Brien, have been prominent Trump bashers on cable television.
In reality, Bloomberg's journalists have been compromised ever since Bloomberg first ran for mayor of New York City in 2001. After 12 years as mayor, Bloomberg became a big-time sugar daddy to liberal activists pushing government crackdowns on fossil fuel production and gun ownership. How "objective" reporters could ethically navigate all of their owner's political activism seems impossible.
But let's face it: Back then, the rest of the "news" media never found this objectionable. Bloomberg News was branded in a business-news niche and, in that sphere, looked like a progressive influence, so they didn't care.
So why care now? Because Michael Bloomberg represents a threat to the party's leftist base and is bizarrely seen as a "centrist," despite all his devoutly liberal public service and philanthropy. Ethical concerns have suddenly erupted.
Why would Bloomberg bother running? He doesn't look like he'll dominate the presidential race. It's pure arrogance. But David Martosko of the Daily Mail predicts that the current mogul in the White House will have a field day with this. He tweeted: "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.'"
Journalists who perpetually lament Trump's destruction of "democratic norms" now face a candidate who's obliterating all the journalistic norms. This is an ethical test. Let's see how many will try to skip the class and hope it goes away.
(L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.)