With Michael Bloomberg now running for president, the news service that bears his name said on Sunday it will not “investigate” him or any of his Democratic rivals, and Bloomberg Opinion will no longer run unsigned editorials.
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait announced the new rules in a note to his news organization’s 2,700 journalists and analysts on Sunday, shortly after the former New York City mayor announced his candidacy.
“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,” Micklethwait wrote.
Bloomberg started the news service in 1990 to complement the financial information he sold to customers. It has since expanded, with its news available in many formats, including a television and radio network, and Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.
Micklethwait said Bloomberg reporters will cover polls, policies and how the Bloomberg campaign is doing much like it does for all candidates. But it will not do investigative stories on Bloomberg and, to be fair, any Democratic contenders. It will continue to investigate the Trump administration, he said.
If other credible news organizations do investigative stories on Bloomberg or other Democrats, the news service will summarize them or publish them in full, he said.
“We will not hide them,” he said.
To anyone who believes the news service shouldn’t cover Bloomberg at all, he said Bloomberg News “has handle these conflicts before - and proved our independence.”
The situation presents an ethical tightrope. When Bloomberg was considering a candidacy in 2016, the news service’s politics news director in Washington, Kathy Kiely, quit and said she did not feel she could do her job without covering Bloomberg aggressively.
“Good journalism is easy,” she wrote in a Washington Post column at the time. “You just need to be willing to bite the hand that feeds you.”
The Bloomberg Opinion service will no longer carry unsigned editorials, since they usually reflected Bloomberg’s point of view. It will continue to run opinions by columnist and some columns from outsiders, although none of the latter will be about the campaign.
David Shipley, who has overseen Bloomberg Opinion as its senior executive editor, is leaving to join the campaign, Micklethwait said. Some other members of the editorial board will also take leaves of absence, he said.
Chief Content Officer Marty Schenker has been asked to oversee the campaign coverage.
“This is a structure that can cope with many eventualities,” Micklethwait wrote. “No doubt, many of you are already thinking of possible complexities that may raise. My response is: let’s get back to work. We can spend a long time debating ‘what ifs.’ I would rather that we got on with the journalism and let the work speak for itself.”