Commentary

Bloomberg's Collapsing Presidential Campaign Started With A Tweet

Michael Bloomberg's decision yesterday to end his presidential bid and endorse Joe Biden, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money to saturate the media with campaign ads, closed one of the most dramatic periods of the 2020 presidential election.

A key moment stands out in the past few weeks of Bloomberg's collapsing campaign that highlighted his vulnerabilities as a candidate. It also showcased how media outlets outside the corporate mainstream can drive political discussions as more people rely on social networks to share information.

Benjamin Dixon, a self-described political progressive, whose media ventures include The Progressive Armywebsite and "The Benjamin Dixon Show" podcast, sent a tweet on Feb. 11 that drove the news cycle and highlighted a major blind spot in campaign coverage.

Dixon's tweet promoted his most recent podcast that discussed Bloomberg's "racist, classist past." The episode included an audio clip of the former New York City mayor explaining his "stop-and-frisk" policy in specifically racist terms. Bloomberg made the remarks during a Q-and-A session at an annual conference hosted by the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit based in the posh Colorado ski resort.

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Ninety-five percent of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops," Bloomberg had said. "They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city (inaudible.)”

Dixon, who a few weeks earlier announced his support for Bernie Sanders, had found Bloomberg's remarks on YouTube with a little digging. A reporter who had covered the Aspen event posted his recording on the video-sharing site, where they were mostly ignored for years.

That all changed when Dixon's tweet started to trend on Twitter and people added the #BloombergIsARacist hashtag to posts they shared with friends and followers, fanning the flames of viral growth.

As other media outlets started to cover the story, Bloomberg's campaign sprang into action to contain the growing crisis, as Politicoreporters Sally Goldenberg and Christopher Cadelago detailed in a Feb. 13 story.

Bloomberg was obviously aware that stop-and-frisk was a major political liability for any candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, given that African Americans make up a significant voting bloc. Before announcing his candidacy, he apologizedfor the policing tactic that was ruled as unconstitutional.

Dixon's reporting pointed out a significant story that other media outlets had ignored. It also was remarkable considering his podcast is funded by individual donors who donate money through Patreon, the crowdfunding website.

If Dixon struck a glancing blow at Bloomberg's campaign, then Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a direct hit in the subsequent debates among Democratic candidates.

Bloomberg's favorability rating never recovered after Warren hammered the former mayor for allegedly making sexist remarks to women who used to work at his data company. Bloomberg's dismal performance at the debates proved impossible to overcome on Super Tuesday.

3 comments about "Bloomberg's Collapsing Presidential Campaign Started With A Tweet".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 5, 2020 at 12:56 p.m.

    Rob, while Dixon's tweet didn't help Bloomberg, Mike blew it all by his dismal first debate performance. If he had come properly prepared and displayed the required characteristics of a leader who might take on Trump, Dixon could have tweeted his heart away and Bloomberg would still be well into the running--and gaining ground. 

  2. Robert Williams from MediaPost replied, March 5, 2020 at 1:40 p.m.

    Ed, 
    Very good point.
    Thanks!
    Rob

  3. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, March 5, 2020 at 2:25 p.m.

    Yeah, I agree with my old boss, Ed, and I would add Bloomberg's big mistake was not getting in sooner. Had he, it's likely this would have been vetted and, perhaps, overcome. That said, Bernie Bros are very good on the attack as they're now proving, echoing tRump crits on social media.

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