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Houston Chronicle stops using Bloomberg News wire stories for campaign coverage

Houston Chronicle stops using Bloomberg News wire stories for campaign coverage
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The Houston Chronicle's executive editor has announced that the newspaper will stop using Bloomberg News wire stories pertaining to the 2020 presidential campaign in light of the news service's decision to not investigate its owner or his Democratic presidential contenders. 

Steve Riley said in an op-ed published on the Chronicle's website that Bloomberg News's "inexplicable decision" to "not cover its boss seriously" caused him to set the policy in the Chronicle's newsroom. The longtime journalist argued that it would mean "no serious journalism" about the 2020 campaign would derive from the organization.  

The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that Riley sent a memo to editors directing them to use other sources when selecting wire stories for the newspaper.

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A Bloomberg News spokesperson declined to comment on The Chronicle's new policy to The Hill. 

Riley elaborated on his decision on Thursday, writing that Bloomberg News's late November announcement about its new 2020 campaign reporting protocols made his "stomach rumble."

"Why would we use Bloomberg’s work involving presidential politics?" he asked, saying that he expected his directive to editors would be the end of it. Riley has also advised editors to carefully vet Bloomberg News's energy stories if they are related to the Trump administration. 

Riley, who previously led an investigative unit at the newspaper, added that he felt compelled to expand on his move in light of the Post's reporting. He also opened up about the Chronicle's own work to address reader concerns about perceptions of bias.

Riley argued that it would be difficult to pin "an ideological tag" on the Chronicle's investigations in recent years. But he also recognized that bias can seep into reporters' work on issues including the city, region and state. And he noted that some readers have judged the newspaper "harshly" for simply selecting a story from The New York Times or Washington Post for its print product. 

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"The key is that they, and we, often publish probing stories about the folks who are in charge, or who want to be in charge. Journalists should not choose targets based on their political affiliation," he wrote. "That’s why we won’t be publishing Bloomberg News’ work on the presidential campaign."

The comments from Riley show how at least one news organization is addressing Bloomberg News's unprecedented decision to dial back coverage in light of Bloomberg LP founder Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE's entry into the 2020 presidential race. 

Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said in a staff memo to more than 2,000 journalists in November that the news service would continue its tradition of not investigating Bloomberg and that it would extend the policy to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. At the same time, Micklethwait said that the news outlet "will continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day."

Trump's reelection campaign responded by barring Bloomberg News journalists from receiving credentials for his rallies. Trump campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE said the move was made because the news outlet had "declared their bias openly."

Bloomberg has adamantly defended the news organization's policy, saying during an interview earlier this month that reporters' paychecks come with "some restrictions and responsibilities."

“People have said to me, ‘How can you investigate yourself? And I said, ‘I don’t think you can,' " said Bloomberg, whose late bid for the presidency has sparked vehement criticism from progressive candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration In the final chapter of 2020, we must recommit to repairing our democracy MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary: report Bottom line MORE (D-Mass.). Many candidates have accused Bloomberg, a former New York City mayor who is worth more than $50 billion, of trying to buy the election.