America’s wealthiest media mogul calls himself a “moderate” businessman, but his money and media empire tell the story of a self-absorbed liberal intent on influencing the 2016 election.
Michael Bloomberg announced on March 7, 2016, he would not run for president in 2016 because “there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz.” Now that the race has narrowed, Bloomberg endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on stage during the party’s convention Wednesday night.
“I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future,” Bloomberg said then, and vowed that he would fight against “partisan extremism” in the election.
However it is his ego, and his liberal policies that Bloomberg seems to love. He named his own company and 18 of its subsidiaries after himself, uses his wealth to pushed abortion and attacks on the coal industry, and owns a sprawling media empire which boasts more than 15,000 employees and 5,000 daily news stories which conveniently supports the same liberal policies as Bloomberg.
While New York City mayor, Bloomberg was repeatedly criticized for his nanny state policies, including banning Styrofoam, trans fats, smoking, cigarette displays in stores, traffic in Time Square, and loud music. Bloomberg even tried to forbid the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks, but the ban was overturned.
Even though his name won’t be appearing on any 2016 presidential election ballots, Bloomberg’s influence will certainly be all throughout the remainder of the 2016 election, as it has in the past.
While New York City mayor, Bloomberg used his financial influence to get himself a third term by pressuring city council to change term limit laws. During the 2012 election, Bloomberg founded the Independence USA PAC for the sole purpose of supporting candidates who backed his personal agendas like gun control, and the destruction of the coal industry.
If he’s used his money to change politics in the past, he can do it again. He’s already adding his name.
By his own admission, Bloomberg sees philanthropy as a way to “embolden government,” so his giving funds strongly partisan issues. He has given nearly $235 million to destroy the U.S. coal industry, fund abortions around the world, and back gun control through both political donations and his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“Ending coal power production is the right thing to do,” Bloomberg said after joining the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in 2011. So far, Bloomberg has given $80 million to the campaign and the Sierra Club credits him with closing 187 coal plants.
When accepting the Clinton Global Citizen Award at Planned Parenthood in 2014, Bloomberg said that abortion access is “fundamental to the principles of freedom and equality.” He also claimed it was “an outrage” that Texas had created stricter medical standards for abortion clinics.
The broadcast news networks, however, have helped him conceal his liberal values by glossing over his political positions in 90.4 percent of their stories. Between Feb. 1, 2015 and July 22, 2016, Bloomberg was mentioned 52 times by ABC, NBC, and CBS morning and evening news shows, but they only pointed out his political party flip-flopping and liberal mayoral policies five times. The media did not find out that Bloomberg would endorse Clinton until July 24.
Bloomberg: A Self-Serving, Liberal Media Mogul
Bloomberg, 74, ranks 8th on the 2016 Forbes Billionaires list (up from 15th in 2015). His net worth is $47.6 billion, making him the nation’s wealthiest media mogul.
He founded his namesake company, Bloomberg L.P. in 1981. Since then, it has become a global behemoth with 20 subsidiaries which range in focus from finance to journalism. All but two also named after Bloomberg.
In 2001, he resigned as CEO of Bloomberg L.P. to become New York City mayor, but still owned the majority of the company. His simultaneous media ownership and public office raised ethical questions.
"I've never seen anything on this scale -- the mayor of the biggest city and the financial capital of the world owns one of the biggest financial news agencies in the world," Louis Hodges, who was at the time the Knight Professor of Ethics in Journalism at Washington and Lee University, told the American Journalism Review in March 2002.
Reporter Howard Kurtz agreed, "I'm sure the people at Bloomberg News will try as hard as they can to be fair to the new mayor, but they've got a huge perception problem because his name is on the door.” At the time, Kurtz was the media reporter for The Washington Post.
Less than nine months after his mayoral term ended in December 2013, Bloomberg was back running his media empire. After Bloomberg announced his return, Daniel Doctoroff, the president and CEO of Bloomberg L.P. left.
“Mike is kind of like God at the company. He created the universe. He issued the Ten Commandments and then he disappeared. And then he came back. You have to understand that when God comes back, things are going to be different. When God reappeared, people defer,” Doctoroff told The New York Times in September 2014.
Bloomberg is a Political Donor Bent on Pushing Liberal Policies
Bloomberg has claimed to be a Democrat, a Republican, and most recently, an Independent during his lifetime. Despite his inability to commit to a party, Bloomberg has consistently aligned with his original liberal Democrat affiliation, and his political donations reflect that.
Between 1999 and 2015, Bloomberg gave at least $42,558,210 in campaign donations.
$15,037,315 went directly to political candidates, according to CampaignMoney.com. Of that, $14,152,015 went to Democratic political candidates, while only $885,300 went to Republicans. That’s 16 times more to Democrats.
While there are so far no records of Bloomberg donating directly to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in either the current election or previous election cycles, his endorsement Wednesday night is just the continuance of his vocal support for Hillary Clinton.
In a 2014 Face the Nation interview, Bloomberg declared, “you can’t ask somebody to do more than she has done for her country.”
Direct political donations and endorsements weren’t enough for Bloomberg though. In 2012, then mayor Bloomberg wanted to become even more heavily involved in elections, so he started his own super PAC, the Independence USA PAC. Starting a PAC gave Bloomberg the ability to “spend unlimited amounts of money in support of a candidate or issue” so long as he does not coordinate directly with any candidate, according to The New York Times.
“This spending sends a clear message that the mayor intends to keep his wallet open after he leaves office to influence national policy around issues like guns, education and marriage equality,” an anonymous Bloomberg adviser told The New York Times in 2012. “If anything, leaving office will free him to do even more.”
True to his adviser’s word, Bloomberg used his Independence USA PAC to donate an additional $27,520,895 to political candidates between 2012 and 2015.
Bloomberg’s PAC paid for advertising for “candidates who support three of his biggest policy initiatives: legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws and overhauling schools,” The New York Times reported in October 2012. Though the PAC has supported and attacked both Republican and Democrat candidates, the PAC’s website clarifies it only supports “moderates on both sides of the aisle” who support his views on “gun laws, the environment, education policy and marriage equality.”
Independence USA’s claim to be bi-partisan is Bloomberg’s weak attempt to conceal that he only supports thoroughly liberal policy.
Between the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, Bloomberg’s PAC spent roughly $7.2 million backing Democrats, $4.2 million backing Republicans, and another $1.7 million against Democrats who were not liberal enough for Bloomberg’s taste. Thus far, Bloomberg has spent another $4.7 million on media purchases in the 2016 election cycle.
“In the 2012 election, Independence USA helped knock off pro-gun Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) by spending $3.3 million, or more than three times the amount raised by both Baca and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Negrete McLeod, combined,” The Huffington Post’s “Money in Politics” reporter Paul Blumenthal wrote in February 2013.
“Bloomberg's super PAC has made a point of taking on Democrats who are more pro-gun than their districts,” Blumenthal said, pointing out that when Bloomberg has used his PAC against a Democrat, the attack came from the left, not the right.
Bloomberg used his PAC to back former Gov. Angus King, who was running for U.S. Senate in Maine, and Rep. Bob Dold, an Illinois Republican, who “has backed gun-control measures,” The New York Times reported in 2012.
Independence USA PAC also funded last minute attack ads for races where “pro-gun control candidates like Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy in Connecticut and Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in Maryland” were “locked in tight races,” according to CNN Politics.
Bloomberg’s 2016 election cycle spending has so far gone to media, including attacks on the Attorneys General in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC targeted them because they opposed Obama’s Clean Power Plan, The New York Times reported. The ads began running in November 2015.
The PAC spent a total of $9.6 million for the 2012 election, which rose to more than $17.7 million in 2014 election, according to records at OpenSecrets. This cycle, the PAC has already spent $5.5 million.
Bloomberg Aims to Influence Government Through Philanthropy
Bloomberg may not be an elected official anymore, but he is still working hard to manipulate politics with his activist funding.
“[S]ome still see philanthropy as an alternative to government. I see it as a way to embolden government,” Bloomberg wrote in his 2014 annual letter on philanthropy, which outlined his views on both government and philanthropy.
“In so many areas, governments represent our best hope for making the broad-based societal changes that philanthropic organizations are devoted to bringing about,” Bloomberg continued.
Bloomberg’s pattern of giving has shown he meant every word that he said.
Since 2012, Bloomberg has promised to spend more than $192 million through Bloomberg Philanthropies to undermine the coal industry, push for gun control legislation, and support Planned Parenthood, and force Common Core into the public schools — all goals which fall in line with his personal political agenda.
Bloomberg has also inappropriately used his donations to get personal favors from vulnerable organizations. For example, when Bloomberg’s second term as New York City mayor was almost up, he pressured the city council to change term limit law so he could have a third term. To further manipulate city council, he went pressured the charities who relied on his donations to lobby for the policy change as well.
“It’s pretty hard to say no,” an anonymous spokesperson from a Bloomberg charity told The New York Times in 2008, “They can take away a lot of resources.”
At the term limit bill’s hearing, five of Bloomberg’s charities testified in favor of the term limit extension, but none disclosed their financial ties to Bloomberg.
“It’s distasteful. And what’s distasteful about it is leaning on weak people — people who are vulnerable,” Kenneth Sherrill told The New York Times. “The problem is in the implicit threat that if you don’t help, we’re going to remember,” Sherrill continued, explaining it was inappropriate for Bloomberg to ask dependent groups to take his side on legislation. At the time, Sherrill was a political science professor at Hunter College.
Once Bloomberg’s third term was secure, he switched back to supporting two term limits for NYC elected officials, The Huffington Post reported in October 2010.
Bloomberg Media is a Liberal Machine, not an Unbiased News Outlet
As president, CEO, and owner of the Bloomberg L.P. conglomerate, Bloomberg holds a huge amount of influence. But others at Bloomberg L.P. share the same liberal vision.
Bloomberg L.P.’s board members have donated nearly three times more money to Democrats than to Republicans. Since the 2006 election cycle, seven of the eight board members together gave at least $319,974 to Democratic candidates. Only three board members donated to Republicans as well; totaling just $106,871, according to CampaignMoney.
Doctoroff, the former president and CEO, was yet another Democrat donor at the company. He gave nearly $112,000 to Democrat politicians in the last ten years, but had no recorded donations to Republicans, according to CampaignMoney.
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When Bloomberg ran for and won mayor of New York City in 2001, the editors of Bloomberg News undermined their journalists’ ability to report the news by decided that the media outlet would not cover their owner. Bloomberg journalists were only allowed to summarize what other outlets had already reported.
Bloomberg News continued the same crippling tactic when rumors started to circulate that Bloomberg was considering a presidential run in 2016. Bloomberg Politics' Washington news director Kathy Kiely resigned as a result.
"I think that Michael Bloomberg has built a terrific news organization but that he needs to liberate it to cover all the news, even the news about him," Kiely told Politico on Jan. 25, 2016.
"Anybody who enters the political fray should be covered in the same way, with the same level of aggressiveness, and I did not feel that was happening in the case of Mayor Bloomberg,” she continued.
It’s complicated when a major politician or potential candidate owns one of the largest media organizations in the world, but the solution is simple. Politicians shouldn’t own news outlets.
The arguably most well-known subsidiary of Bloomberg L.P. is Bloomberg News. But this is just a fraction of the entire Bloomberg media empire which also includes Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Politics, Bloomberg View (the editorial board), Bloomberg Gadfly (a commentary on corporate, financial, and market news), Bloomberg Television, and Bloomberg Radio.
Bloomberg’s global media circulation is more than 980,000 and reaches more than 150 countries. Bloomberg News boasts 146 bureaus in 73 countries, employing more than 2,430 news professionals. There are also more than 325,000 subscriptions to Bloomberg’s professional services around the globe, according to the Bloomberg L.P. website. As of March 9, 2016, there were 462 open job positions at Bloomberg, ranging from New York to Hong Kong, Dubai, and Shanghai.
The Bloomberg Media Empire Pushes its Owner’s Views
While Bloomberg News claims to be pro-business, and at times reports news in an unbiased way, often the Bloomberg media empire simply parrots the views of the its creator, Michael Bloomberg, to its audience of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Bloomberg News, delivered through the Bloomberg Professional service, television, radio, mobile, the Internet and two magazines, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Markets, covers the world with more than 2,430 news and multimedia professionals at 146 bureaus in 73 countries,” boasts Bloomberg L.P.’s LinkedIn profile.
Not only does the Bloomberg media empire regurgitate Bloomberg’s personal views, they are forbidden to cover Michael Bloomberg’s finances or personal life. Therefore, Bloomberg News does not disclose when Bloomberg is financially invested in a subject that Bloomberg News is promoting.
Bloomberg View, where the Bloomberg Editorial Board writes, is a good place to get a true sense of where Bloomberg media stands on Michael Bloomberg’s favorite issues.
Undermining Gun Rights
Because of Bloomberg’s anti-gun efforts, Starbucks, Panera, Target, Chipotle and Sonic no longer allow law-abiding, armed citizens in their stores. In June, Bloomberg’s gun lobby threw its support behind Clinton.
In 2006, Mayor Bloomberg joined together with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to found Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), an outlet for Bloomberg’s anti-gun activism. Bloomberg’s involvement in MAIG has only grown since he left office in 2013. Bloomberg confirmed in 2014 that he was prepared to spend at least $50 million through MAIG to “outmuscle” the NRA and push gun control legislation.
“Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own,” The New York Times reported in April 2014.
Bloomberg’s promise came two months after MAIG was scrutinized for promoting “confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens,” according to former member Mayor John Tkazyik.
Bloomberg responded by changing the name of MAIG to Everytown for Gun Safety, and bringing Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America under the same umbrella.
Since its founding, Everytown for Gun Safety has become increasingly more extreme.
In 2014, Everytown claimed that there had been 74 school shootings in the year and a half following the Newtown, Conn. shooting; roughly one a week. However, Everytown inflated their number. CNN fact checked their number and determined that 59 of the incidents reported by Everytown were misrepresented.
Colin Goddard, Everytown’s senior policy analyst, advocated imposing Federal gun laws in June 2015, to “hold every state to the same standard.” A standard of liberal gun control, of course.
Everytown’s latest campaign, started in 2016, is a partnership with Cosmopolitan Magazine to “raise awareness among unmarried women of the risk for gun violence and the gaps in the law.” As part of the campaign, Cosmo warned its readers against “gunsplainers:” people who explain and defend their rights to keep and bear arms.
Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg media’s Editorial Board aligns perfectly with Bloomberg’s liberal Everytown for Gun Safety activist group. Between December 2015 and January 2016, the Editorial Board published four separate articles on guns, all advocating stricter gun control.
In one article, the Board argued that banning assault weapons “is not good enough.” In late December 2015 the Board similarly criticized Virginia gun laws for being too lax. “Both concealed carry and open carry are ideological movements, not strategies for public safety,” The Board claimed.
On Jan. 5, 2016, the Editorial Board went so far as to use a report published by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety to bolster their anti-gun position (they did disclose that Everytown was “co-founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, majority owner of Bloomberg LP”). The same article then discussed “Obama’s unfinished gun business” and called for legislation to “bring underground sellers into the regulated market’s background check system.”
A second article two days later, titled “When Dangerous People Want Guns,” again pushed for stronger background checks to limit gun sales.
In early June, Everytown declared “Clinton is the best choice to reduce gun violence” and endorsed her for president. “Gun Sense Voters have a champion in Hillary Clinton,” everytown president, John Feinblatt, said in a statement.
Destroying the U.S. Coal Industry
Gun control isn’t the only liberal goal Bloomberg and his media empire have pushed. He has promised at least $80 million to attack the coal industry (in the name of the environment) too.
Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in 2011, which at the time aimed to “retire one third of the nation’s aging coal fleet by 2020.” Through the partnership, Bloomberg promised to give the Sierra Club $50 million over four years.
In April 2015, the Sierra Club announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies was investing an additional $30 million to “secure the replacement of half the nation’s coal fleet by 2017 with clean energy” dramatically expanding the goal of the Beyond Coal Campaign. That deadline is just under 10 months away.
The Sierra Club credited Bloomberg donations to its Beyond Coal Campaign with forcing coal to generate only 40 percent of electricity generation, down from 52 percent. The Beyond Coal Campaign has taken responsibility for closing 237 coal plants, and they even have an interactive map on their website celebrating that they are “over half way there!” to the goal.
In April, at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York, Bloomberg (the man) boasted, “So far, we've helped retire or phase out more than 230 coal plants. Last year alone, more U.S. coal capacity was taken offline or slated for retirement than in all of the 1990s ... and all of the 2000s... combined!” (Bloomberg New Energy Finance is an arm of the Bloomberg empire claiming to “help clients stay on top of developments across the energy spectrum.”)
The Bloomberg Editorial Board celebrated as well.
“The decline of coal as a source of electric power is inevitable and well under way. This is a good thing,” they declared on Jan. 25, 2016.
“[C]oal's decline is accelerated by public policies designed to reduce deaths from air pollution and limit climate change,” the Board continued, parroting Michael Bloomberg’s own talking points against coal.
The Board similarly celebrated the U.N. Climate summit in Paris in December 2015, saying “Clean energy, and more efficient use of energy, now looks even more attractive than before. A new energy future is coming into focus.” A new energy future that is conveniently being pushed by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Sierra Club.
“Abandoning Coal is Only a Start for U.K.,” the Editorial Board wrote on Nov. 27, 2015, before launching into a defense of a carbon tax. “[I]t's the simplest, fairest and most sensible way to encourage the right investment in secure, affordable and environmentally friendly energy sources.”
Nevermind that destroying the coal industry puts thousands of people out of work.
Funding Abortion in the Third World
In 2012, Bloomberg expanded his liberal giving and joined the Family Planning 2020 partnership. There, he pledged $50 million to provide “maternal and reproductive health services” (including abortion) in third world countries. The Family Planning 2020 partnership, which came out of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, aims “to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.”
Bloomberg made good on his promise in March 2014 when Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it would fund reproductive services in Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda. In reality, Bloomberg handed $50 million to the global arm of Planned Parenthood to provide contraceptives, abortions, and maternal care to mostly “youth and unmarried women.”
“[T]he really significant thing here is that Bloomberg is getting into the advocacy side of reproductive health,” Inside Philanthropy founder David Callahan wrote in April 2014.
“That's also a departure from [his] past funding on maternal health,” he continued.
Bloomberg Philanthropies had been supporting maternal health in Tanzania since 2006 through funding to train “non-physicians to perform life-saving surgeries, including cesarean-sections.” But joining the Family Planning 2020 partnership in 2012 and partnering with Planned Parenthood Global two years later marked Bloomberg’s dramatic leftward shift into abortion activism.
While Michael Bloomberg’s money is busy enabling Planned Parenthood to provide abortions in third world countries, his media empire is pushing for increased abortion access in the United States.
“Defenders of a Texas law that restricts abortion clinics say its main purpose is to protect women's health. So far, however, it has mainly undermined their safety,” began a Nov. 18, 2015, Bloomberg View article.
The article accused the law’s backers of never intending to protect women. Instead, the Board claimed, they only cared about restricting abortions while skirting Roe. v. Wade.
In a follow up article on the same case, the Board praised the more than 100 women who filed briefs telling the court why they benefited from having an abortion. “Amid the noise, it’s important not to lose sight of what, or more accurately who, the fuss is all about,” the Board wrote.
After Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina quoted the Center for Medical Progress’ under cover Planned Parenthood videos, Bloomberg View responded by denying the existence of the video, and accusing Fiorina of “reckless anti-abortion rhetoric.”
“We don't know what specifically inspired the gruesome shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last week. But the setting should surprise no one,” the Board ominously wrote.
Pushing Common Core
“Today, the biggest threat to American might is not any one country or terrorist group. It is our collective unwillingness to confront mediocrity in our schools,” Bloomberg wrote in an oped for Oregon Live on Oct. 29, 2015, defending the federal Common Core standards.
“Life is full of tests and you're gonna be tested all your life,” Bloomberg said in on radio appearance in November 2013, dismissing fears that not all children’s intelligence would be accurately reported through standardized tests.
Common Core is a set of Federal math and english standards that claim to make all students “college-ready” by forcing them to learn complicated math formulas, removing classical literature, and requiring more standardized testing. The Common Core standards undermine state authority over education, and limit the opportunities for private, charter and homeschool students by forcing them all to conform to the same national tests.
While mayor of New York City, Bloomberg made education a central part of his agenda. After leaving office, he has continued pushing his favorite education reforms — including Common Core — through philanthropy.
In 2012 and 2013 alone, Bloomberg gave $12,652,000 to education groups through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partner, America Achieves — the organization behind the federal Common Core standards.
Bloomberg was instrumental in the development of Common Core standards, and has remained firmly dedicated to them ever since. Together, America Achieves and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a Common Core website to help teachers “make the dramatic shift to the new ‘Common Core’ State Standards, which have been adopted in 46 states,” according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
While Michael Bloomberg has been busy funding Common Core, and doing his best to help the implementation, Bloomberg View has been fawning over the controversial education standards.
In March 2014, the Editorial Board criticized Tea Party activists, teachers’ unions, and parents alike for opposing Common Core standards.
While the Board acknowledged that there would undoubtedly be some “growing pains” after implementing the standards, they completely brushed off all opposition, from conservatives opposed to the federal government having that much say, to teachers concerned that the standards were being adopted too quickly, to parents concerned that their children would not do well with the style of teaching required by Common Core.
Five months later, the Board returned to the same “growing pains” rhetoric to brush off concerns that Common Core implementation was not going well. In a weak Biblical analogy, the Board argued that Common Core was not “handed down from the heavens on stone tablets,” and was therefore “a work in progress” that was still “a major improvement over previous standards in most states.”
“Five years after dozens of states adopted the Common Core standards,” Bloomberg View argued in an Oct. 29, 2015, article, “detractors [must] not be allowed to twist the narrative to push states to drop the standards or to make it easier for parents and districts to opt out of testing.”
The article came one day after Bloomberg himself promoted Common Core on Bloomberg View, telling people to “demand better schools, not fewer tests.”
Methodology: MRC Business searched morning and evening news coverage on ABC, NBC and CBS for mentions of “Bloomberg,” “Mike Bloomberg,” or “Michael Bloomberg” between Feb. 1, 2016 and July 22, 2016 (two days before it was announced that Bloomberg would endorse Clinton at the DNC). Those results were analyzed to see how many stories identified his party alliance flip-flopping and/or his liberal policies mayor and contrasted that against stories that either made no mention of Bloomberg’s politics, or painted him as a moderate.