The union representing journalists at the Bloomberg Industry Group criticized the company for effectively barring journalists from investigating Michael Bloomberg or any of his Democratic presidential rivals.
In a statement released on Twitter, the guild, which represents Bloomberg Law, Bloomberg Tax, Bloomberg Government and Bloomberg Environment said they were “extremely alarmed” by the company’s decision to “silence” reporters.
“We are extremely alarmed by management’s decision to silence the journalists we represent at Bloomberg Industry Group, as well as the unrepresented journalists at Bloomberg News,” read the statement.
“The Guild believes journalists should not only be allowed — but encouraged — to thoroughly cover every single candidate as the profession demands in one of the most important elections in modern history,” it continued.
— Guild at Bloomberg Industry Group (@GuildatBIG) November 26, 2019
The union felt compelled to react after Bloomberg News’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait issued a statement on Sunday stating that in order to treat all the Democratic candidates fairly that they wouldn’t be conducting investigations of any of them.
“We will write about virtually all aspects of this presidential contest in much the same way as we have done so far,” Micklethwait informed that staff in a memo. “We will describe who is winning and who is losing. We will look at policies and their consequences. We will carry polls, we will interview candidates and we will track their campaigns, including Mike’s.”
The memo also noted that several of the company’s opinion and editorial writers would take a leave of absence to join the campaign.
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 noted the challenges Bloomberg News will have in covering the owner.
“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),” he continued. “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 — and I believe we can.”
As for refraining from investigations Micklethwait wrote:
“We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him. If other credible journalistic institutions publish investigative work on Mike or the other Democratic candidates, we will either publish those articles in full or summarize them for our readers — and we will not hide them.”
But there is a different standard for President Trump since reporters will “continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day,” and will reassess this policy only if Bloomberg becomes the Democratic nominee.
While the media largely shrugged off the memo, former Bloomberg Businessweek editor Megan Murphy was shocked that Mickelthwait would issue such a memo.
It is truly staggering that *any* editor would put their name on a memo that bars an army of unbelievably talented reporters and editors from covering massive, crucial aspects of one of the defining elections of our time. Staggering.
— Megan Murphy (@meganmurp) November 24, 2019
The bottom line is that readers of Bloomberg content will not receive unbiased reports of the Democratic presidential field if the company’s decision prevails.