Bloomberg Reassigns Reporter After Call From Wells Fargo CEO
Last March, on the heels of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead and 17 more injured, Bloomberg News published an investigative report exposing Wells Fargo as the “preferred financier for the U.S. gun industry.” Less than six months later, the publication has reassigned the story’s lead writer, reportedly at the financial service company’s request.
According to CNN, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy J. Sloan called Bloomberg’s editor in chief, John Micklethwait, to complain about the “conduct” of reporter Shahien Nasiripour, whose relationship with company representatives had grown increasingly fraught. (After a heated argument over a Sloan memo outlining the company’s ties to the National Rifle Association, Nasiripour actually issued an apology to Wells Fargo’s public relations team). Micklethwait responded by moving Nasiripour onto the Trump Organization beat—and off of Wells Fargo—citing his call with Sloan, per sources briefed on the meeting.
“Bloomberg publishes 5,000 stories a day and, like every news organization, we get pushback from the companies we cover,” a spokesperson for the publication said. “We make decisions about how we cover those companies based purely on what is best for our readers.”
As CNN’s Oliver Darcy reveals, Bloomberg derives the vast majority of its revenue from subscriptions to Bloomberg Terminal, a computer software system that allows analysts to track market data and place trades in real time. A single subscription can run upwards of $20,000 per year, and Wells Fargo is one of the news agency’s biggest customers. “If the bank were to pull subscriptions from the terminal,” Darcy notes, “Bloomberg could lose millions.”
The move has seemingly not sat well with Bloomberg’s editorial team. While they have declined to comment publicly on their departures, three reporters—Hugh Son, Dakin Campbell and Laura Keller—have left the publication since Nasiripour’s reassignment.
For Wells Fargo, CNN’s reporting is merely the latest in a string of scandals and public embarrassments. In 2016, the company paid $185 million in penalties and was forced to terminate 5,300 employees after charging customers fees for bank accounts and credit cards that were opened without their approval; the revelations led Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to call for Sloan’s firing. Earlier this year, the bank was fined an additional $1 billion for a range of insurance and mortgage abuses.
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