Nets Tout Possible Bloomberg Run, Only NBC Mentions His Anti-Gun Crusade

On Monday, all three network morning shows hyped the possibility of former New York City mayor and liberal activist Michael Bloomberg entering the 2016 presidential race. However, only NBC’s Today made any mention of Bloomberg’s nationwide anti-gun crusade as a stumbling block for him.

The NBC morning show devoted most on it’s political coverage to the Bloomberg speculation. At the top of the broadcast, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: “Will he run? Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighing a presidential bid.  What would it take for him to jump in? Is it too late?”

In the report that followed minutes later, correspondent Peter Alexander explained: “With aides drawing up plans for a possible third party campaign, a source close to Bloomberg says it’s likely the former New York City mayor would only run if the general election matched up Trump or Ted Cruz against Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton is vowing that won't be necessary.”

Alexander then provided a scant nine-second mention of Bloomberg’s controversial anti-gun stance: “Analysts warn getting in comes with no guarantees, especially for a would-be candidate with close ties to Wall Street, who’s one of the nation's leading voices for strict gun control.”

He also noted: “Rand Paul mocked the idea, ‘Another liberal billionaire from New York City? I think that slot is taken.’”

Wrapping up his report, Alexander declared: “Our source close to Bloomberg tells NBC News that he’s given himself an extra – an early March deadline to make a decision either way. The person stressing Bloomberg would certainly like to be president, but doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t like to go on hopeless journeys.” The reporter failed to mention the failure of Bloomberg’s gun control push.

A full segment followed with Republican strategist Nicole Wallace and MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki to analyze the development. Casting Bloomberg as a moderate, co-host Savannah Guthrie described how he would only enter the race “if the parties elect and nominate their extremes.” She wondered: “Is this the kind of year where you could actually see a third party candidate and it’s not a suicide mission?”

Wallace argued: “I think if Bloomberg’s going to get in, he needs Cruz to be the Republican nominee, that’s the only thing that frees up and makes available enough right-leaning voters. And he needs Bernie Sanders to prevail in the Democratic primary to find a lane to be able to add up enough potential voters to come his way.”

In contrast, Kornacki accurately saw Bloomberg’s base of support almost entirely on the left: “If Hillary Clinton doesn't win the Democratic nomination, realistically, that probably opens up more voters for him....when you start to look at the numbers the profile of the potential Bloomberg voter more likely to come from the Democratic side than the Republican side.”

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On ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Cecilia Vega reported the news and added: “We are hearing from people on his team that he is not very excited...about the prospect of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump being the party nominees.”

Minutes later, co-host George Stephanopoulos raised the topic with White House correspondent Jon Karl, who announced: “...if he sees a situation where it looks like Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would be the Republican, he believes this would be an historic opportunity for an independent candidate.”

Stephanopoulos observed: “And there’s a lot of debate right now over who – which party that would help, which party it would hurt.”

On CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King wondered: “Whose campaign stands to lose the most, you guys, if he gets in?” Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson saw trouble for the GOP: “Well, I think it's hard to say. We don't really know. I think in the end of the day, when it comes down to electoral votes, I think he actually hurts the Republicans more. They start with fewer electoral votes in their column.” However, he admitted: “But that’s such a long way away. So I don't know.”

Moments later, Dickerson concluded: “I think there’s a lot of ‘less likely.’ This is fun thing to talk about, but reality a long way away. Let’s see when he starts trying to get on the ballot.”

Both ABC and CBS avoided any mention of Bloomberg’s anti-gun activism.

Here is transcript of the coverage on the January 25 Today:

7:00 AM ET TEASE

MATT LAUER: Will he run? Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighing a presidential bid.  What would it take for him to jump in? Is it too late?

(...)

7:13 AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And there's growing buzz about somebody who isn’t yet in the race. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, contemplating a late run of his own. We’ve got all of this covered for you. And let's start this morning with NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander. Hi Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Hi, Savannah. Good Monday morning to you. Michael Bloomberg willing to spend a least a billion dollars of his own money, if he dives in. But if floating this idea of a possible Bloomberg run was designed to intimidate potential opponents, that certainly has not happened. Trump – Donald Trump touting a widening lead in Iowa, according to a new poll –  he's unfazed. And Bernie Sanders says, “Bring it on.”

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bloomberg Ballot Buzz; Trump & Clinton Weigh In on Possible 3rd Party Run]

Could it be the battle of the multi-billionaires? Donald Trump says he'd welcome a Michael Bloomberg bid.

DONALD TRUMP: I'd love to have him come in because I love the competition, frankly. I mean, it would be great if Bloomberg – I’d love Bloomberg to come in.

ALEXANDER: With aides drawing up plans for a possible third party campaign, a source close to Bloomberg says it’s likely the former New York City mayor would only run if the general election matched up Trump or Ted Cruz against Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton is vowing that won't be necessary.

HILLARY CLINTON: I’m gonna relieve him of that and get the nomination, so he doesn't have to.

ALEXANDER: Analysts warn getting in comes with no guarantees, especially for a would-be candidate with close ties to Wall Street, who’s one of the nation's leading voices for strict gun control. Rand Paul mocked the idea, “Another liberal billionaire from New York City? I think that slot is taken.”

(...)

7:15 AM ET SEGMENT:

ALEXANDER: Our source close to Bloomberg tells NBC News that he’s given himself an extra – an early March deadline to make a decision either way. The person stressing Bloomberg would certainly like to be president, but doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t like to go on hopeless journeys. Matt and Savannah?  

GUTHRIE: Alright, Peter, thank you. MSNBC political analyst Nicole Wallace served as an advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign and Steve Kornacki is an MSNBC host and political correspondent. Good morning to both of you. So tempting, Nicole, to ask you about the Tina Fey impersonation, but let's talk about the real political headlines. Michael Bloomberg floating this trial balloon, my understanding is only if the parties elect and nominate their extremes would Bloomberg see a path. Is this the kind of year where you could actually see a third party candidate and it’s not a suicide mission?

NICOLE WALLACE: It is. But you have to be willing to engage in hopeless endeavors if you want to run for president because that is the likely outcome based on the statistics. But if he’s a domino, he needs two other dominos to fall first. I think if Bloomberg’s going to get in, he needs Cruz to be the Republican nominee, that’s the only thing that frees up and makes available enough right-leaning voters. And he needs Bernie Sanders to prevail in the Democratic primary to find a lane to be able to add up enough potential voters to come his way.

LAUER: It seems, Steve, as if he's relying on anger. We've talked so much in this campaign, so far, about anger on the right and anger on the left. He’s hoping, or calculating, that if those two people get the nomination that Nicole just talked about, there’ll be enough anger in the center to possibly give him a path to the White House.

STEVE KORNACKI: Yeah, I think though, in all honesty, when you look at this, the key for him is Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton doesn't win the Democratic nomination, realistically, that probably opens up more voters for him. He obviously would need a Trump or a Cruz on the Republican side. But I think when you start to look at the numbers the profile of the potential Bloomberg voter more likely to come from the Democratic side than the Republican side.

GUTHRIE: But he’s got billion dollars, Nicole, so that would making him an immediate contender if he decided to get in.

WALLACE: Sure, but how crazy, he wouldn't be the only billionaire in the race. So, you know, in an otherwise normal year, that would give him an advantage and would let him say, “I’m not going to have to go out and fundraise.” In this year, he'd be following Trump's lead on that issue.

LAUER: Alright, so scale of 1 to 10. Ten is he'll absolutely do it if those two people are nominated. One is there's no way. Where do you stand?

WALLACE: I just think there’s no way that Cruz and Sanders each prevail. So with that being the calculous, I think there’s no way he gets in.

LAUER: You’re saying the situation doesn’t present itself?

WALLACE: No.

KORNACKI: If the situation presents itself, I'd give it a seven or an eight.

LAUER: Alright.

WALLACE: That’s cheating.

GUTHRIE: I saw some lawyerly wriggling over there, Kornacki. Thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC