Times China Story Echoes Story Allegedly Killed by Bloomberg News

A screenshot of the story, which ran on the the front page on Thursday

A screenshot of the story, which ran on the the front page on Thursday

Last week, The New York Times ran a story on China that sounded remarkably like a story that the Times reported had been killed by Bloomberg News, without mentioning the coincidence.

On Nov. 9, the Times broke a story alleging that Bloomberg News Editor in Chief Matthew Winkler killed multiple stories critical of China in order to retain journalistic access to the country and, as a side benefit, maintain a Chinese market for its lucrative terminals. In the past, access to both Bloomberg News and The New York Times has been banned as a result of unfavorable coverage.

One of the pieces allegedly killed was Bloomberg reporter Cathy Chan’s exposé “about the children of senior Chinese officials employed by foreign banks,” supposedly spiked after a conference call with editors in New York.

On Nov. 14, the Times ran a front-page story on the same topic: how J.P. Morgan gave lucrative jobs and contracts to the often unqualified children of Chinese political elites, including the daughter of then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

While news outlets chase similar stories all of the time, considering the timing, prominence of both articles and obvious overlap, a mention of the paper’s own explosive story on Bloomberg News’s reporting would have made sense.

Despite the similarity of subject matter between the stories, a spokesperson for the Times denied any link. “Our story today was the result of our own investigative reporting over a period of many weeks,” spokesperson Eileen Murphy wrote in an email last week.

“Our story on J.P. Morgan and China has nothing to do with Bloomberg,” Ms. Murphy added in a follow-up email. “We reported that Bloomberg was working on a story about princelings in banks. But we have no details, and there are many princelings working for many banks. And as I said previously, our story was in the works for many weeks, well before we heard about anything Bloomberg might be working on.”

The Times article itself specified that the story had not been previously reported and that to get the story, the Times had reviewed confidential documents, public records and interviews. The Bloomberg story, although similar, did involve different characters.

For its part, Bloomberg News maintains that its China articles simply weren’t ready for publication. (The Times account had implied that the reporting threshold was raised to avoid running the articles altogether.) “As we’ve told the Times and numerous other outlets, the stories in question were simply not ready for publication,” Bloomberg spokesperson Ty Trippet told OTR.

Bloomberg News has denied that the stories have been killed. A spokesperson declined to give a specific timeline for when they would be published. But at least one of the reporters suspected of leaking to the Times has faced the wrath of Bloomberg News higher-ups.

On Tuesday morning, one of the reporters involved in the spiked China stories, Michael Forsythe, wrote on his Twitter feed that he had left Bloomberg after the Times reported on Sunday that he had been suspended. (A Bloomberg spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Forsythe has left the company.)

There have been a lot of stories about Bloomberg News in The New York Times lately. 

Last week, The New York Times ran a story on China that sounded remarkably like a story that the Times reported had been killed by Bloomberg News.

This post has been updated