Me: “Those are all sort of relatively recent hires [I have no idea what point I was trying to make here]…”

No, we can go back a long time.

Me: “No no no…”

How about [the late Monroe] Bud Karmin won a Pulitzer prize in 1968 [for work in 1967] for The Wall Street Journal, joined Bloomberg in [1991] , okay?

Me: No no I was just making a point that you…

No! I’m just saying Ron Henkoff joined us in 1998 when was the economics editor for Newsweek International, then he went to to the board of editors at Fortune magazine [An Audit correction: An earlier version misquoted Winkler as saying that Henkoff had worked at Forbes; in fact, Winkler had it right; it was Fortune], then came to Bloomberg in 1998—last I checked that was ten years ago. That’s not a relatively recent hire as the editor of our magazine. Laura Colby came with him—half his staff.

Me [helpfully]: Charlie Babcock?

Charlie Babcock! Washington Post! I mean, when you look at who joined Bloomberg over the years, and I don’t mean just in the past three years, but I mean the past ten years or the past fifteen years. Felix Kessler! Joined Bloomberg in 1992. Who is Felix Kessler? He was the Paris bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was a writer for Fortune magazine. Joined us in 1992! Is that good enough?

I sink deeper and deeper into my chair. I detect an absence of nitrogen in the air. Or maybe it’s a surplus.

Pearlstine, Winkler says, it more than just a dot on this upward graph of talent. He says it was “the dream, the wish, the fantasy” to hire his old mentor, who had hired Winkler to the Journal back in the 1980s. The hiring is a signal that:

Bloomberg is pretty serious about being serious about news. Not that it wasn’t, but if you want an iconic moment in journalism, here’s one for you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re not familiar with Bloomberg, here’s an iconic moment. We’re showin’ ya’, we’re not tellin’ ya’. He just walked in the door, okay? What else do you need to know? Do any of these [competing] journalistic platforms right now have somebody who’s done all the things that Norman Pearlstine has done in news?

Me: “You mean, elsewhere around…”

Outside of Bloomberg, you can count on your hand the people who have done all the things that Norm Pearlstine has done. There are not too many people like him—if any. And all I’m saying is that if people want to understand what I mean when I’m saying by the comment “influence and stature,” here’s an example: we’re serious. We were serious yesterday. We were serious ten years ago. But ya know what? We’re never gonna stop being serious. We’re just going to keep pushing. This isn’t the end. This is the end of the beginning, to paraphrase Winston Churchill.

Me: What’s Pearlstine going to do?

He’s not here yet. He’ll be here June 2, so on June 3 we’ll have some idea of what he’s going to do, and June 4 and June 5, and so on. Suffice it to say, what I envision is the day-to-day operations of Bloomberg News isn’t materially going to change from today, a month from now—it’s going to be as it has. I’m going to continue to do many of the things if not all of the things that I’m doing, which is to make sure every single subject we are reporting on that we are as good as we can possibility be. That we’re doing the best, and best is always yet to come. That’s my job.


I think I can benefit enormously from having someone like Norm looking over everything that I do and everything we do and saying, “You know, have you tried this, have you thought of that, maybe you want to try it this way. Maybe you want to think about doing this way.”

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.