Bloomberg quashed story over fear of retribution from China: report
Bloomberg News reportedly killed an article investigating Communist Party elites in China six years ago, fearing the report could hurt the company’s business in the country.
New details about the issue were reported Thursday by NPR, which wrote that Bloomberg sought to get a reporter’s wife to sign a nondisclosure agreement about the decision to not run the story.
NPR reported that after Bloomberg published a story about the accumulation of wealth by elites in the country — coverage that won awards for Bloomberg — it never ran a subsequent story focused on ties between China’s leaders and the country’s richest man, Wang Jianlin.
The story was researched by a team of foreign correspondents that included Mike Forsythe, a former Beijing reporter for Bloomberg News, who currently works at The New York Times.
Forsythe received death threats after the initial story, and Bloomberg News helped him and his family move to Hong Kong.
Bloomberg News was initially excited about reporting the follow-up story, but that changed as the company considered the threat from China, according to audio that NPR said it had obtained.
In the audio, Bloomberg’s founding editor-in-chief, Matthew Winkler, said the story could cause huge problems in China for Bloomberg.
“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, according to NPRs audio. “So, I just don’t see that as a story that is justified.”
Bloomberg sought to get those reporters who had worked on the story to sign nondisclosure agreements — and also sought to get Forsythe’s wife, Leta Hong Fincher, to do so, she told NPR.
“They assumed that because I was the wife of their employee, I was the wife,” she said. “I was just an appendage of their employee. I was not a human being.”
Fincher added that she did not think there was a reason for her to sign the agreement “because I didn’t possess any damaging material about the company.”
Fincher wrote about her experience for The Intercept earlier this year, citing accounts of being summoned to Bloomberg’s offices in Hong Kong and walking into a conference room along with her husband and his lawyers.
The Hill has reached out to Bloomberg News but has not immediately heard back.