Accuracy in Media

The entrance of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has upset the current presidential primary campaign for the 2020 election in the Democratic Party, as multiple presidential hopefuls vie for the opportunity to challenge incumbent President Donald Trump. Bloomberg, who is a billionaire, will most likely self-fund his campaign and by extension, apply significant financial pressure on the other candidates in the primary field.

BuzzFeed published an article highlighting the immediate financial impact Bloomberg made once he made his campaign official: an estimated $1 million ad buy on Google’s search engines. The article, entitled, “After Google Announced New Political Ad Rules, Michael Bloomberg Spent An Estimated $1 Million,” attempted to portray Bloomberg’s ad buy as unethical.

The article compared the timing of Bloomberg’s ad buy to Google’s announcement on restricting political ads in the 2020 campaign cycle, and noted that the ad buy took place two weeks after Google’s announcement. It added that these announced restrictions “appear unlikely to hold the presidential campaigns back” since Bloomberg put down an estimated $1 million for an ad buy. The ads would run on varying search results, such as “Trump tweets,” “Fox News Trump,” “gun control,” “impeachment,” and “climate crisis.”

BuzzFeed asked Google for a comment on the Bloomberg ads and the company said that Bloomberg’s ads were in compliance ahead of the January 2020 deadline, which ultimately blew up BuzzFeed’s attempt to label the ads as unethical or non-compliant.

It then compared the $1 million ad buy to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has spent between $10,000-$20,000 on Google ads. In a seemingly shameless plug for Warren’s campaign, the article included that Warren’s ad buy focused on her name and on her t-shirt, which reads, “Nevertheless she persisted.” The article also included a screenshot of Warren’s t-shirts in a Google search result page.

No matter the list of primary candidates, BuzzFeed should give each candidate fair and equal treatment. By focusing on Bloomberg’s ad buy, and including t-shirt images for Warren’s campaign, BuzzFeed’s article came off as unbalanced and biased. BuzzFeed should focus on neutral and impartial journalism, instead of partisanship masquerading as journalism.

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