It’s a story that spans decades, exposes corrupt Chinese politicians and shows the lengths Bloomberg L.P. will go to protect its profit.
It begins in China in 2012, when a team of hard-nosed journalists at Bloomberg News started investigating the ties between the Communist Party and the country’s wealthiest citizens.
Their reporting hit a little too close to home and the higher-ups at Bloomberg News killed it, firing the reporter who questioned the decision and attempted to silence his wife by pressuring her for years to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
The incredible story, reported by NPR on Tuesday, untangles the twisty tale behind Bloomberg’s decision to cave to threats by China’s ruling party because they were worried about repercussions by Beijing. Instead of standing by their reporters, Bloomberg turned on them and took it a step further when it tried to get author Leta Hong Fincher, the wife of then-Bloomberg Beijing correspondent Mike Forsythe, to also keep quiet.
“They assumed that because I was the wife of their employee, I was the wife,” she told NPR. “I was just an appendage of their employee. I was not a human being.”
A Bloomberg News spokesperson declined to comment to Fox News.
Forsythe was part of Bloomberg’s team of reporters looking into the mass accumulation of wealth by China’s ruling class. Their investigative reporting got them on Beijing’s radar, and the Chinese ambassador purportedly warned Bloomberg executives about publishing further exposés.
Forsythe pressed on, despite receiving death threats.
The team’s next round of reporting focused on Chinese leaders’ ties to Wang Jianlin, the country’s richest man, as well as the family of President Xi Jinping. At first, Bloomberg editors seemed to be excited about digging deeper into China’s most influential leaders, but soon the media outlet’s bigwigs back home decided to drop the story.
In October 2013, Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg’s founding editor-in-chief, was caught on video admitting that the piece would “you know, invite the Communist Party to, you know, completely shut us down and kick us out of the country. So, I just don’t see that as a story that is justified.”
In audio made available to NPR, Winkler suggested that Bloomberg reporters find another way to cover the story — a friendlier path that wouldn’t ruffle as many feathers.
“It has to be done with a strategic framework and a tactical method that is … smart enough to allow us to continue and not run afoul of the Nazis who are in front of us and behind us everywhere,” he said. “And that’s who they are. And we should have no illusions about it.”
When asked, Winkler said at the time that the story needed additional reporting.
The problem: That’s not what the audio revealed.
Instead, it offered a disturbing peek into how much editors were worried about losing millions of dollars in business deals in China.
Bloomberg’s terminals have been a huge moneymaker for the company. Subscribers have paid about $20,000 a year for each, which provides financial data and news stories. The more money Bloomberg makes on its terminals, the more traction and name recognition its news division gets. But just as the investigation into China’s ruling class was in full swing, Bloomberg’s business opportunities in China were seen as a cash cow.
Around the same time, Michael Bloomberg had been elected mayor of New York City. He claimed multiple times he had nothing to do with Bloomberg News, but NPR and Bloomberg’s own reporters say he was in frequent contact and shared his vision for expansion in China.
This directly contradicts statements he repeatedly made.