Oct
01
2008

Lords of the Press OK Bloomberg 3rd Term

When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg began to pave the way for tossing out term limits and running for a third term, the first place he went was to his fellow media moguls (New York Times, 8/23/08):

Even as he publicly remains coy about his political future, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has quietly approached some of the city's most powerful media figures to assess whether their publications would endorse a bid to overturn New York City's term limits, which could clear a path for him to run for re-election next year.

Over the last several weeks, Mr. Bloomberg has held confidential conversations with Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, which owns the New York Post; Mortimer B. Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News; and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Company, to gauge their views on the issue, according to people familiar with the talks….

Many of the city's top business executives have privately said they are dissatisfied with the field of candidates who are likely to run for mayor next year, and are seeking a way to keep Mr. Bloomberg in office. Mr. Bloomberg is hoping that newspaper publishers–and their editorial boards–will back a campaign to ease the limits, giving him some political cover in what would certainly be a contentious battle….

One person familiar with the mayorâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s efforts to woo the three newspaper executives, who spoke anonymously because the talks were meant to be confidential, said Mr. Murdoch was inclined to lend his support given the absence of a strong alternative candidate for mayor.

A person close to Mr. Zuckerman said he was open to the idea of a third term for Mr. Bloomberg, and suspected the Post and the Times would be, too. "So it would be a clean sweep," this person said.

Sure enough, Bloomberg has made his announcement, and his fellow press lords have come through for him: "Run, Mike, Run" was the headline of the New York Post's editorial (9/30/08); "Go for It, Mike" was the Daily News' print-edition equivalent (10/1/08).

The New York Times, pretending it wasn't on a first-name basis with the mayor, went with "The Limits of Term Limits" (10/1/08). Sulzberger's paper called for the abolition of term limits altogether–naturally, "not to serve any individual's political career but to serve the larger cause of democracy."

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.