Bloomberg campaign answers press freedom questionnaire

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg wants the next U.S. president to be a “firm and outspoken champion” of the news media, is skeptical about the need for a federal media shield law and vows to restore regular press briefings to the White House.

In a series of responses to a press freedom questionnaire, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign spelled out the former three-term New York mayor’s  view of the news media – a view that it said is informed by the information company that bears his name. 

Bloomberg’s campaign was the first to respond to the questionnaire, which the National Press Club Journalism Institute, in partnership with the National Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists, submitted to all the presidential candidates.

“Rather than undermining the legitimacy of the press as President Trump has sought to do at every turn, Mike would work to remind all Americans of the value of the institution to our democracy,” Bloomberg policy advisor Nisid Hajari wrote on behalf of the candidate.

While Bloomberg’s media-business interest distinguishes him from the rest of the presidential field, it also has drawn attention for the decision by Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait to continue its practice of not investigating Bloomberg and to extend that policy to other Democratic candidates during the presidential contest. The company, however, has said it would publish investigative stories or summaries from other news outlets.

In its responses to the press freedom questionnaire, the Bloomberg campaign listed his top journalism priorities as the protection of journalists, safeguarding press freedoms globally, and restoring faith in a free press.

The campaign said Bloomberg would ensure the ability of journalists to safeguard sources. But while 49 states have media shield laws in statute or by case law, the campaign expressed misgivings about a federal shield law because the government would have to make decisions about who is and who isn’t a journalist, “which seems unwise.”

Bloomberg would restore “regular and frequent” White House briefings and reinstate daily briefings at the State Department and the Pentagon, the campaign said, pointing out that as mayor of New York, he held three to four press briefings a week and a taped weekly radio show.

Disclosure: Bloomberg Philanthropies is a donor to the Press Club and the Journalism Institute.