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Bloomberg news service won't 'investigate' Democrats as namesake founder announces presidential run

With Michael Bloomberg now running for president, the news service that bears his name says it will not "investigate" him or any of his Democratic rivals, and Bloomberg Opinion will no longer run unsigned editorials.

Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait announced the new rules in a note to his news organisation's 2700 journalists and analysts today, shortly after the former New York City mayor announced his candidacy.

"There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves," Micklethwait wrote.

Bloomberg started his news service in 1990 to complement the financial information he sold to customers. It has since expanded, with its news available in many formats, including a television and radio network and Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

The entry of Bloomberg into the presidential race also raises potential conflict-of-interest questions involving his extensive business holdings, which go well beyond his news service. Bloomberg's businesses, which include selling financial data services, employ more than 19,000 people in 69 countries.

Experts say those holdings could create financial conflicts stemming from Bloomberg's policy positions, both domestic and foreign, unless he takes decisive action to formally remove himself from his businesses.

Michael Bloomberg Source: Associated Press

"We want people to have confidence that folks in government, including the president, are acting out of a sense of concern for the public interest, not the vision of what their private interests are," said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St Louis who focuses on legal and government ethics.

Every president since Jimmy Carter has acted to sell assets that could create conflicts of interest, Clark said - except President Donald Trump, who has provoked broad criticism for remaining financially connected to his businesses.

Senior advisers for Bloomberg did not immediately answer questions today about whether he would create a firewall of some sort between himself and his many entities, including his foundation based in Manhattan.

When asked about potential conflicts of interest when he was considering a run earlier in the year, Bloomberg had pledged to "separate myself" from his foundation and private businesses should he launch a campaign. Today, though, it was unclear whether he was still committed to doing so and how specifically he might separate himself from his many business interests.

At his news service, Micklethwait said, Bloomberg reporters will still cover polls, policies and how the Bloomberg campaign is faring, much as it does for all candidates. But it will not do investigative stories on Bloomberg - or, to be fair, on any of the other Democratic contenders. It will continue to investigate the Trump administration, however, he said. Micklethwait noted that the situation is different because Trump is already president and so the work of his administration is fair game.

If other credible news organisations do investigative stories on Bloomberg or other Democrats, the news service will summarise them or publish them in full, he said.

"We will not hide them," Micklethwait said.