I’ve previously written in this space that for all his bluster, I think President Donald Trump actually loves the media. He gives more impromptu press conferences and even one-on-one interviews than any other president has in my lifetime.
But that doesn’t stop him from using a fight with the media to make a point, which he did recently by announcing he would bar the wire service we use – Bloomberg News – from receiving credentials to his rallies and other campaign-related events.
The move followed the wire service’s announcement in an internal memo that it would not do investigative pieces on its owner, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, or other Democratic presidential candidates but would continue to investigate Trump as a government leader currently in office.
Bloomberg News will aggregate or publish other outlets’ investigative work on the candidate and his competitors if the wire service considers the reports credible.
The decision has been met with criticism by some in the news industry, including long-time media critic Howard Kurtz, who called it “a major misfire that satisfies no one,” according to the media watchdog website Mediaite.
In his memo, Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said the news service has a “tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.” He said the policy toward Michael Bloomberg – and Trump – will be re-evaluated if Bloomberg earns the nomination.
One can argue the merits of Bloomberg News’ decisions, both to initiate the policy and to announce it publicly. But in my view, barring the wire service from campaign events is a mistake.
For one thing, it’s not as if Bloomberg News specializes in doing biting investigative pieces on the family members of politicians. They’re a very good business-focused wire service that seems much more at home examining the ramifications of trade negotiations with China than worrying over whether Trump once had an affair with Stormy Daniels.
And that brings me to my second point: In the year and a half that I’ve been managing Western Farm Press’ website, at least, Bloomberg News has been fair to Trump – more so than some other major news services.
As an example, one need only compare coverage of Trump’s reinstating tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil. In a pejorative-laden article, a major competing wire service sighed that the move was “another example of his mercurial approach to trade policy” which is “sapping economic growth.”
For their part, nine contributing Bloomberg reporters explained the origins of the policies, detailed the South American countries’ relationships with China, and provided context by noting that linking tariffs to Federal Reserve action on currency manipulation could mark a new phase in Trump’s trade agenda.
Voters keep saying they yearn for campaigns based on issues rather than mudslinging. Bloomberg News, for one, is sticking to the issues. Trump should count his blessings and let them in.