Michael Bloomberg is continuing to staff up his presidential campaign with employees from his news organization.
A Bloomberg News spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast that former Bloomberg News editor Zara Kessler has taken a leave of absence and joined the ex-NYC mayor’s campaign. Her Twitter bio changed in recent days to now say she works on the billionaire’s recently announced presidential campaign.
Kessler is at least the fifth staffer from Bloomberg’s media operation to join the ex-mayor’s 2020 run since he announced the campaign late last month—and she is seemingly the first to join from the non-opinion side of the newsroom.
A number of editorial staffers have left the outlet to join their boss’ campaign: Bloomberg Opinion senior executive editor David Shipley and executive editor Tim O’Brien both also took a leave of absence to enlist for 2020; and Bloomberg Opinion editor Mark Whitehouse also updated his Twitter bio to say he works on the campaign, as did former Bloomberg Opinion social-media editor Jessica Karl. A Bloomberg News spokesperson confirmed that they had also joined the campaign.
The moves come amid internal turmoil over Bloomberg’s decision to seek higher office, a decision staffers at the business news-focused company feared in the lead-up to the 2020 election as the former mayor mulled a bid. (When The Daily Beast asked dozens of staffers last year whether they want Bloomberg to run for president, only one said yes.)
Since he joined the large 2020 Democratic field, Bloomberg’s news operation took the unusual step of announcing that while it would continue to investigate President Donald Trump, it would not investigate Bloomberg or any other Democratic presidential candidates during the primary.
Privately, many staffers have been confused and enraged by the decision, which was announced last month by Bloomberg News top editor John Micklethwait. Many journalists have complained that the decision will hinder attempts to break stories and seriously cover the most important story in politics for the coming year—an election which will undoubtedly affect many beats besides politics.
The editorial union that represents some Bloomberg journalists—including those at Bloomberg Government, Tax, and Law, among others—released a statement last month saying they were “extremely alarmed” by the organization’s decree that it would not investigate Democrats.
“Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth and as journalists, we must maintain an independence from those we cover,” the union said. “The Guild believes journalists should not only be allowed but encouraged to thoroughly cover every single candidate as the profession demands in one of the most important elections in modern history.”
In an interview on CBS This Morning last week, Bloomberg dismissed criticism that he has silenced his own journalist employees, saying he simply didn’t believe the organization would be able to objectively investigate him or his primary rivals.
"We have to learn to live with some things," Bloomberg told host Gayle King. "They get a paycheck. But with your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities."