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Trump Campaign Accuses Bloomberg News Of Bias

Dec 3, 2019
Originally published on December 3, 2019 9:52 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Trump campaign fired a shot across the bow at a rival candidate yesterday. The president's campaign is banning all Bloomberg News reporters from Trump campaign rallies and events. Bloomberg News, of course, is owned by Michael Bloomberg, who just formally entered the presidential race as a Democratic candidate. Bloomberg's bid for the White House could make life difficult for his political reporters. And let's bring in NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik from New York. Hi, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: Let's start with what the Trump campaign is doing here and why they say they're doing it.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, what the Trump campaign is doing is essentially saying it will not credential reporters for Bloomberg News at its campaign rallies and events to be officially part of the pack covering the campaign. They say they're pointing to this policy announced last week in which John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, says we will not be investigating Mike Bloomberg, the candidate. It's - Mike Bloomberg, after all, owns Bloomberg News and has a policy of not investigating Mike Bloomberg. And as a result, it would be unfair to really investigate Mike Bloomberg's Democratic rivals but will continue to cover the Trump White House in depth and will continue to cover the Trump administration.

And therefore Brad Parscale points to this and says this just shows that the campaign - excuse me - that the news organization is biased, and it's made its bias explicit. That's from both the Trump Twitter account and from the campaign itself. So this has stirred this real tension for the ability of the news organization to cover the campaign.

GREENE: OK. So this is the Trump campaign basically saying if you're not going investigate any Democrats, then you shouldn't be covering us at all. So then take us in to this Bloomberg News policy. Why do they have it?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Bloomberg News has, over the years, developed a really strong reputation for fairness. John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief, says, you know, we have no bias. But this goes back decades from the - basically, the start of Bloomberg News. Mike Bloomberg has said on the record he doesn't really want the reporters he's covering to investigate him, his family, his philanthropy, his business concerns. In fact, when he was mayor for 12 years of the nation's largest city, its financial capital right here in New York City, there was almost no coverage of city hall even in terms of how it affects the financial world, which is, of course, the bread and butter the - really the texture of what Bloomberg News is most focused on.

There's a fundamental lack of transparency about Bloomberg. And in this almost unprecedented circumstance, he's applying it to his presidential run. There are implications. Business Insider just did a big investigative piece documenting a pattern of sexual harassment at Bloomberg LLC over the years. And, you know, that's a real news thing that can be covered as well. This is a tension that's playing out right now. It's playing out at the highest levels.

GREENE: OK. That tension - some ethical questions there. Also on the Trump side, there have always been tensions between this president and the press. That's nothing new. I mean, they've banned reporters from covering the campaign in 2016. Some reporters have had their White House credentials revoked. I mean, is this part of that same old story on that side?

FOLKENFLIK: You know, it's what's called old wine in new bottles. But - and the - Trump has attacked the press more viciously in his rhetoric as well. And at the same time, I think this is a self-inflicted and unnecessary wound. Even if Trump is again on the attack against the press, Bloomberg provided the opening.

GREENE: All right. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joining us this morning. David, thanks so much. We really appreciate it, as always.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.