Michael Bloomberg may no longer be trying to buy the Dem nomination, but he is, as he been fond of reminding everyone during the debates, the guy who helped fund Pelosi’s majority, and the guy who intends to try and buy Democrats the White House.
Even if he won’t be the one sitting in the big chair, there’s little doubt that he would like a cabinet position.
With all that in mind, what are Bloomberg’s ties to Communist China? We’ve seen his defenses of Xi and the regime. But how deep does that entanglement go?
This investigation suggests it goes a lot deeper.
Six years ago, Bloomberg News killed an investigation into the wealth of Communist Party elites in China, fearful of repercussions by the Chinese government. The company successfully silenced the reporters involved. And it sought to keep the spouse of one of the reporters quiet, too.
The Chinese ambassador warned Bloomberg executives against publishing the investigation. But Bloomberg News published the story anyway. Afterward, Forsythe received what he and Fincher considered death threats relayed through other journalists. He and Fincher moved their family to Hong Kong, believing it to be safer.
Even so, the reporting team pursued the next chapter, focusing on Chinese leaders’ ties to the country’s richest man, Wang Jianlin. Among those in the reporters’ sights: the family of new Chinese President Xi Jinping. The story gained steam throughout 2013.
That story never ran.
“Mike and some of the other reporters and editors who had been working on this story just were asking for answers about … why was this story killed?” Fincher says.
Finally, in late October 2013, Bloomberg’s famously intense founding editor-in-chief, Matthew Winkler, weighed in, via a private conference call. In attendance: senior news executives in New York and the China-based investigative team. NPR has obtained audio of Winkler’s remarks on the call.
“It is for sure going to, you know, invite the Communist Party to, you know, completely shut us down and kick us out of the country,” Winkler said. “So, I just don’t see that as a story that is justified.”
But Bloomy didn’t just kill the story. His organization worked to silence the reporter and his wife.
In late 2013, Bloomberg News suspended Forsythe, accusing him of leaking word of the controversy to other news outlets. The company would later fire him. He soon landed at The New York Times.
Forsythe declined to comment for this story. In leaving the company, he signed a nondisclosure agreement that bars him from speaking publicly about his time at Bloomberg News. Others from the China investigative team would leave the company in the years that followed, each having first signed an agreement not to disparage the company. In at least one case, a journalist signed the nondisparagement deal in part to prevent the loss of a month’s pay.
Lawyers for Bloomberg News pressured someone else to sign a nondisclosure agreement: Forsythe’s wife, Fincher.
They threatened to force Forsythe and Fincher to pay back the tens of thousands of dollars spent to move their family to Hong Kong after the death threats. Bloomberg also threatened to sue to make the couple pay the company’s legal costs, pushing the dollar amount well into the six figures.
Legal documents reviewed by NPR contradict that claim, showing Bloomberg LP’s muscular efforts to obtain a nondisclosure contract from Fincher. In letters to Fincher’s Hong Kong lawyers, Bloomberg LP’s attorneys insisted that she sign an agreement that includes, among other items, a promise she would never criticize the company or its officers. Bloomberg’s lawyers also explicitly stated they reserved the right to sue her in court.
This went well beyond killing a story. This is an attempt to silence anyone who even knew about the story. And perhaps Bloomberg was just trying to cover up its own complicity. But, more troublingly, these thuggish tactics suggest that the company was acting on behalf of the regime.
After the first investigative project ran in 2012, the Chinese authorities had searched Bloomberg’s news bureaus, delayed visas for reporters and ordered state-owned companies not to sign new leases for Bloomberg’s primary product: its terminals.
The terminals are the lucrative basis of Mike Bloomberg’s personal fortune — recently estimated at more than $50 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world. Subscribers pay $20,000 annually for each terminal, which provides specialized financial data and analysis.
Bloomberg’s wealth is tied to the CCP. And as long as that’s true, he’s a security risk and so is any politician he funds.
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