Remember When No Meant No

The Bloomberg-denies-running story industry

We get it media: you want New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president. We can’t blame you. It would be exciting—he has money, he’s popular, he’s doing what some consider a bang-up job in post-Rudy NYC, and he’d probably try for a third term. But he’s told you several times before he’s not interested. So why do you keep asking?

As early as April—and probably earlier—Bloomberg began stating emphatically that he had no interest in the presidency. At a public lunch that month, Bloomberg assured one questioner, “I’m not running, don’t worry about that.” He made similar denials in July, September, and October. Cut to November, when, in what was described by the Wall Street Journal as “the latest round of presidential rumor-rejection,” Bloomberg denied that he was in talks with Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough to run with the anchor as a VP candidate. “I don’t know whether he’s running,” Bloomberg was quoted as saying. “I can tell you I’m not running. It’s very flattering, all kidding aside, that everybody suggests this, but I’m not running for president, guys. I have 1,140 days left to go on this job and I’m going to work every day as hard as I can.”

Over the weekend, David Gregory, unsatisfied with such assurances, asked again on Meet the Press if Bloomberg was considering a run. His answer. “No way, no how. I’ve got a great job.” Settled, right?

It’s understandable that people suspect Bloomberg might not be being entirely honest with us. He has waded into nearly every national political debate we’ve had since Obama was elected and he has made pointed calls for more moderate, more Bloombergian voices, to enter the presidential field. And his people have been secretly talking to the press about how he is “full-bore, out-right exploring” a run. It all feels a bit 2008. The double play has attracted its own sort of “Bloomberg’s playing us” articles.

But can we let it rest for a bit? If the mayor is genuinely not running, then he’s already told us. Time to move on. And if he is, by constantly asking the question, fully aware of the response, I suspect we’re playing into whatever strategy he might be deploying. For now, let’s let it be, and get back to Palin-watch.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor. Tags: , , , ,