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Former NYC Mayor and democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg opens a local campaign field office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 21, 2019. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Despite Vow Not to Probe Billionaire Owner's 2020 Rivals, Bloomberg News Runs 'Ridiculous Hit Piece' on Warren and Sanders

"Hit pieces on progressive candidates become questionable when run by a news outlet owned by one of their rivals. This as much as anything shows why Bloomberg must sell Bloomberg News."

Jake Johnson

Bloomberg News on Monday was accused of violating its month-old vow not to investigate billionaire owner Michael Bloomberg or his 2020 Democratic presidential rivals after the outlet published an article criticizing Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for buying office supplies from Amazon—the retail behemoth both have criticized for low wages and poor working conditions.

The story, headlined "Sanders, Warren Campaigns Spend the Most on Amazon While Trashing It," was denounced as an absurd attack on two of the most vocal opponents of Bloomberg's candidacy.

"Less than a month after Bloomberg said a conflict of interest meant it wouldn't investigate 2020 Dem candidates, Bloomberg publishes a ridiculous hit piece on Mike Bloomberg's biggest critics in the race."
—David Sirota, Sanders speechwriter

"Less than a month after Bloomberg said a conflict of interest meant it wouldn't investigate 2020 Dem candidates, Bloomberg publishes a ridiculous hit piece on Mike Bloomberg's biggest critics in the race (and yes, the story is utterly ridiculous)," David Sirota, a speechwriter for the Sanders campaign, tweeted Monday.

Sirota was referring to Bloomberg News' pledge last month to not investigate Bloomberg or his 2020 Democratic primary opponents now that the former New York mayor is vying for the presidency.

"We will 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," John Micklethwait, Bloomberg's editor-in-chief, wrote in a memo to newsroom staffers on Nov. 24, the day Bloomberg announced his candidacy. "We cannot treat Mike's Democratic competitors differently from him."

Critics said Bloomberg's story on Monday was a flagrant violation of the outlet's vow to remain neutral in the primary process.

"Hit pieces on progressive candidates become questionable when run by a news outlet owned by one of their rivals," tweeted David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospect. "This as much as anything shows why Bloomberg must sell Bloomberg News, the inability to do so is debilitating to democracy and a free press."

The article highlights critiques Sanders and Warren have leveled against Amazon, such as its avoidance of federal taxes, and weighs them against the amount of money their campaigns have spent on the company's website.

"So it may surprise voters to learn that the eight leading Democratic candidates and Trump have spent almost $600,000 on Amazon in the first nine months of 2019, mostly for office supplies, according to federal campaign records," wrote Bloomberg reporter Spencer Soper. "The stridency of the anti-Amazon rhetoric tends to correlate with the size of the outlay on its website."

The story was immediately and widely mocked on Twitter:

Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University and critic of corporate monopolies, tweeted that Bloomberg's article is "a non-story about two amazing candidates using an essential tool of modern society, notably the only two candidates who have hammered home the point that its very centrality requires it to be broken up and regulated."

"Amazon has too much power," said Teachout.


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Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

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