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Trump campaign to stop giving credentials to Bloomberg News

DAVID BAUDER
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FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media in Phoenix. Democrats are narrowing Donald Trump's early spending advantage, with two billionaire White House hopefuls joining established party groups to target the president in key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome of next year's election.(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign said Monday it will no longer give credentials to Bloomberg News reporters to cover campaign events because of coverage “biases,” an accusation that the news organization rejects.

The decision comes a week after the news service’s founder, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. And Bloomberg News, which the former New York City mayor founded in 1990, said it would not investigate him or his Democratic rivals but would continue to probe the Trump administration, as the sitting government.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called it a troubling decision to “formalize preferential reporting policies.” He said Bloomberg reporters would no longer be credentialed to cover campaign events until the policy is rescinded.

“As President Trump’s campaign, we are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organizations don’t announce their biases so publicly,” Parscale said.

Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said the accusation of bias couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign,” he said.

The Trump campaign’s action illustrates the difficult position Bloomberg’s candidacy has imposed on the news organization.

By saying reporters could not investigate Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals, some critics have said this would prevent the news organization from doing in-depth reporting on the campaign. Bloomberg officials say it’s a position they’ve navigated before when he was mayor.

“This is my nightmare come true,” said Kathy Kiely, a University of Missouri journalism professor who quit as Bloomberg political director when he was considering a run for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Journalists at Bloomberg would have been better served if he had made clear that he was stepping away from his company for the campaign and said that he — and any candidate for president — was fair game for any kind of stories that Bloomberg News reporters could dig up, she said.

“It’s unfortunate that this is creating a perception that this is how journalism works, that journalists are manipulated by their bosses,” she said.

In a memo sent to staff members following Bloomberg’s announcement, Micklethwait said he would continue the organization’s policy of not investigating Bloomberg, his family or his foundation, and “will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.”

If Bloomberg was chosen as the candidate against Trump, the policy as it affects the president will be reevaluated, he said at the time.

Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, also criticized the Trump campaign’s move.

“Bloomberg News is one of the largest and most influential news organizations in the world,” Baquet said. “We condemn any action that keeps quality news media from reporting fairly and accurately on the presidency and the leadership of the country.”

Trump’s potential Democratic rival in the 2020 contest, former Vice President Joe Biden, also panned the Trump campaign’s position as he campaigned Monday in Iowa.

“It’s really dangerous when you start saying to any press outlet that you can’t cover me, you can’t be credentialed, you can’t get on the bus or you can’t come to the White House,” Biden said on his campaign bus.

He posed a hypothetical — if such practices were acceptable — about the relationship between Democrats and Trump’s preferred cable news network. “Would any Democrat have Fox cover them in the White House?” he said. “Come on. You can’t do that. You gotta be big boys here. It’s the nature of the beast.”

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Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Algona, Iowa, contributed to this report.