Bloomberg's campaign is attracting media scrutiny

New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter.

Michael Bloomberg is on the verge of qualifying for his first Democratic primary debate — a development that could change the 2020 race in dramatic fashion.
To date Bloomberg has eschewed most TV interview requests and has sidestepped the debate process since he hasn’t qualified for any of them. Due to a change in the qualification rules, removing the requirement for individual donors, he is eligible for Wednesday’s NBC/MSNBC/Nevada Independent debate — but he needs to top 10% in one more state or national poll. The deadline is Tuesday night, and he has multiple chances to qualify, according to my sources.

    NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist will release a poll at 5am Tuesday, an NPR spokeswoman confirmed Monday night.
    NBC News and its polling partner, the WSJ, are also in the field with a poll, and the results will be released later in the day on Tuesday, two sources said.

    There could be other polls, too, but these are the two I know about. Bottom line: Bloomberg seems likely to qualify. The NBC moderators and producers are preparing accordingly. If he is on stage, it will be his biggest test yet…

    Debate prep is underway

    Fresh reporting from CNN’s Cristina Alesci and Dan Merica: “Bloomberg and his team have been preparing with various senior members playing the role of his opponents. Bloomberg’s senior advisor Howard Wolfson is playing Bernie Sanders, according to one campaign official. The campaign is setting expectations low by highlighting that his competitors have been debating for the better part of a year while this would be Bloomberg’s first debate since 2009…”

    The need for independent reporting…

    Quoting Irin Carmon from Sunday’s “Reliable” telecast: “Independent reporting is so important when you have somebody basically paying their way into the conversation — not being subject to the same debates, the same campaigning for voters, not the same early contests. I think there’s no precedent for that. And it makes independent journalism all the more important…”

    Inside Bloomberg News HQ

    The NYT’s Michael Grynbaum has a big new story about the discomfort at Bloomberg News about the news outlet’s owner running for president.
    Two months after editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said his reporters would “refrain” from investigating Bloomberg or Democratic rivals, “the pressure and unease inside Bloomberg News have only increased,” Grynbaum wrote. “Journalists who hoped Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy would prove short-lived have watched him vault to the upper tier of the Democratic race. Now there are discussions about what a President Bloomberg could mean for a news organization already grappling with a perceived conflict of interest.”
    Looking for an analogous situation? You’ll have to look all the way back to 1904, when William Randolph Hearst “enjoyed cheerleading coverage from his network of newspapers.”
    >> CNN’s Jake Tapper commented on the story: “The candidate and campaign should be firewalled from the newsroom, period. And again: the refusal to build this proverbial wall is only serving to hurt the hard-working and excellent journalists at Bloomberg who deserve better than this.”

    For the record:

    — Rosie Gray’s story from the Bloomberg campaign trail is a must-read. She says “the overwhelming size and scope of Bloomberg’s campaign” is its defining feature, and “it’s a validator” for voters… (BuzzFeed News)

      — Recommended reading: “Bloomberg’s Billions: How the Candidate Built an Empire of Influence” by Alexander Burns and Nicholas Kulish. Burns will be on “The Daily” podcast Tuesday morning… (NYT)
      — The AP’s Jonathan Lemire talking about Bloomberg et al: “One of the great questions — and we don’t know the answer to it yet — is do the rules not apply to anybody anymore or do the rules just not apply to Donald Trump? We simply don’t know…” (Mediaite)
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