Bloomberg News‘s leadership promulgated a new editorial policy forbidding staff journalists from investigating 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
According to multiple reports, Bloomberg News editor in chief John Micklethwait informed staff in a memo that the outlet would continue "our tradition" of not investigating owner Michael Bloomberg, his family, or his personal foundation. But Micklethwait also announced it would "extend the same policy to [Bloomberg's] rivals in the Democratic primaries." Reporters will still be allowed to investigate President Donald Trump so long as he is not a "direct rival" to Bloomberg's presidential aspirations.
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The policy change follows Bloomberg's formal announcement on Sunday that he was entering the 2020 Democratic presidential race. The billionaire and former New York City mayor's presidential run presents difficult questions for Bloomberg News, which has a longstanding policy of not reporting on its founder and CEO.
In the memo, Micklethwait announced that Bloomberg‘s opinion editorial board will cease operation. Several members of the opinion team will take leaves of absence and join the Bloomberg campaign as staffers.
2020 is not the first time the news outlet has had to grapple with its founder's political ambitions. Bloomberg Politics Washington news director Kathy Kiely resigned in protest in 2016, when Bloomberg was considering running for president, citing concerns that the outlet would be unable to cover his campaign fairly. Kiely's resignation came on the heels of reports that Bloomberg News staffers were being instructed not to write stories speculating about their boss's potential run without approval from higher-ups.
Asked for her opinion about the Sunday memo, Kiely told the Associated Press Monday that the policy will "relegate [Micklethwait's] political writers to stenography journalism…. It's not satisfying for journalists and it's not satisfying for readers. I think people will go elsewhere for in-depth political coverage."