The conservative Media Research Center filed Monday a Federal Election Commission complaint alleging that the policy by Bloomberg News not to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — but to continue to investigate President Trump — violates campaign-finance laws.
The complaint filed against Bloomberg LP, owner of Bloomberg News, as well as Michael Bloomberg and his 2020 presidential campaign argues that the news outlet’s hands-off policy on Democratic candidates represents “an improper contribution to Bloomberg’s campaign under FEC regulations.”
“Bloomberg News is making a mockery of legitimate journalism,” said MRC President Brent Bozell. “They have consciously chosen to abandon their journalistic responsibilities in favor of what is politically convenient.”
Under FEC rules, media outlets are exempt from federal campaign-finance disclosure laws “unless the facility is owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate,” in which case they must provide “reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates,” said the MRC filing.
Given that Bloomberg News said it would not investigate Mr. Bloomberg or any other Democratic primary contender, but would continue to cover the Trump administration, the complaint argued that the media company must register as a political committee.
“Bloomberg News’s decision to refrain from investigating the Candidate is a thing of value given by Bloomberg News to the Candidate to influence a federal election,” said the seven-page document.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg News declined to comment on the filing.
“This is a public declaration that Bloomberg’s newsroom is adopting media bias as an official policy,” Mr. Bozell said.
The billionaire’s entry last month into the crowded Democratic primary field presented a conundrum for the Bloomberg media empire, which includes television, radio, two business magazines and the news website Bloomberg.com.
Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said in a memo obtained by media outlets Nov. 24 that the company would “continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s democratic competitors differently from him.”
The memo added, “For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day. If Mike is chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that.”
Asked in an interview Friday about pushback from Bloomberg reporters, Mr. Bloomberg said that “restrictions and responsibilities” come with the territory at his media company.
“OK, we just have to learn to live with some things,” Mr. Bloomberg told “CBS Morning News.” “They get a paycheck. But with your paychecks comes some restrictions and responsibilities.”
Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is founder and 89% owner of Bloomberg LP, the financial software company that owns Bloomberg News.