Bloomberg News reassigned reporter after Wells Fargo CEO called to complain

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A Bloomberg News reporter who covered Wells Fargo was reassigned earlier this year after the bank's CEO called the news organization's editor in chief and complained about the reporter, multiple people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The incident rocked part of the banking team, the people familiar with the matter said, and was a contributing factor in the departures of some of the unit's veteran reporters.

A Bloomberg News spokesperson said, "Bloomberg publishes 5,000 stories a day and, like every news organization, we get push back from the companies we cover. We make decisions about how we cover those companies based purely on what is best for our readers."

A spokesperson for Wells Fargo (WFC) declined to comment.

Bloomberg's primary source of revenue is selling subscriptions to the Bloomberg Terminal, which cost approximately $20,000 per year. Like most banks and companies in the financial sector, Wells Fargo is a significant client. If the bank were to pull subscriptions from the terminal, Bloomberg could lose millions of dollars in revenue.

The chain of events was prompted by a story the reporter, Shahien Nasiripour, wrote in March. The story called Wells Fargo the "preferred financier for the U.S. gun industry" and detailed the bank's relationship with the National Rifle Association.

Following the publication of that story, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan sent employees a memo responding to Bloomberg's article. The Wall Street Journal obtained the memo and published a story based on it.

After The Journal published its story, Nasiripour asked the public relations team at Wells Fargo if they could provide him a copy of the memo so that he could also report on it for Bloomberg News.

A Wells Fargo representative declined Nasiripour's request. That led to a contentious phone conversation between a Wells Fargo spokesperson and Nasiripour, people briefed on the matter said.

Following the conversation, a member of the Wells Fargo public relations team contacted Caroline Gage, the global executive editor for finance at Bloomberg News. Gage then asked Nasiripour to apologize to the Wells Fargo public relations team for his conduct during the call. Nasiripour agreed to do so and did.

But tension between Bloomberg News and Wells Fargo remained.

Later in the month, Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait summoned Nasiripour for a conversation. Micklethwait explained that Sloan had called him to complain about Nasiripour's conduct, people briefed on the conversation said. To Nasiripour's surprise, Micklethwait said he had made the decision to move him off the Wells Fargo beat. Nasiripour was reassigned to cover the Trump Organization.

Micklethwait's decision left a bad taste in the mouths of other reporters at Bloomberg News, people familiar with the matter said.

Since the incident, three of Bloomberg News' senior banking reporters have left the news organization. Hugh Son departed for CNBC, Dakin Campbell for Business Insider, and Laura Keller most recently left for an as-yet-unannounced job.

Son, Campbell, and Keller all declined to comment. Nasiripour referred CNN to a Bloomberg News spokesperson who said that he declined to comment.


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