Bloomberg reporter Shahien Nasiripour is no longer covering Wells Fargo after the bank’s CEO called his bosses to complain about a critical report.
CNN Money reported Monday that Nasiripour has been reassigned after Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan called the outlet to complain about a March 2018 report about the bank’s history as one of the biggest financiers of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun industry.
One of the most unflattering details about the report was how Wells Fargo apparently holds the primary accounts for the NRA, and helped America’s biggest gun lobbyist obtain a $28 million line of credit. A chart in the article showed that the bank was by far the largest financier of the firearms industry, helping gun and ammo manufacturers obtain more than $431 million in loans in the years following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, in which 20 children and six teachers were killed. The second biggest financier is Morgan Stanley, which has provided $81 million less than Wells Fargo:
Sloan was apparently so upset by Nasiripour’s report that he circulated a memo to all Wells Fargo employees responding to the story. After the Wall Street Journal reported on the memo, Nasiripour asked the bank’s PR department if he could have a copy of the memo. The bank refused his request during a reportedly “contentious” phone call between the reporter and a Wells Fargo spokesman. The bank’s PR department then called Caroline Gage, who is Bloomberg News’ global executive editor for finance, who in turn asked Nasiripour to apologize to the bank for his conduct during their call.
But that apparently wasn’t enough for the bank:
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.
According to CNN, Bloomberg felt that its revenue would be endangered by Wells Fargo pulling all of its subscriptions from the Bloomberg Terminal, with each subscription amounting to roughly $20,000 per year. Such a move would apparently cost the outlet millions of dollars in annual revenue.
However, a Bloomberg spokesperson told CNN the decision to reassign Nasiripour wasn’t based on his critical report of Wells Fargo’s business practices, but out of “what is best for our readers.”
“Bloomberg publishes 5,000 stories a day and, like every news organization, we get push back from the companies we cover,” the spokesperson said.
Bloomberg’s willingness to acquiesce to Wells Fargo “left a bad taste” in the mouths of three other reporters covering the banking industry for the outlet, who left to join other publications. Hugh Son took a position at CNBC, Dakin Campbell went to Business Insider, and Laura Keller took a job at an unspecified company.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.