The wife of a former Bloomberg News reporter claimed Michael Bloomberg threatened to “ruin” her family financially if she spoke out about how the publication killed a story critical of leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.
Leta Hong Fincher, whose husband, Michael Forsythe, now writes for the New York Times, wrote that the former New York City mayor threatened to “devastate” her family if she jeopardized his financial ties to China.
“My story shows the lengths that the Bloomberg machine will go to in order to avoid offending Beijing,” Fincher began an editorial for The Intercept.
Fincher first explained that her husband wrote a Bloomberg News article connecting the dots between Chinese President Xi Jinping’s family’s vast and sudden accumulation of wealth and him assuming office.
Immediately, her husband began to receive death threats by a woman who told him she represented a relative of Xi. The woman specifically conveyed threats to Forsythe’s entire family, consisting of his wife, a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old at the time. Bloomberg News urged the family not to say anything.
In October 2012, Fincher tweeted about the death threats she had received after the story on Xi.
Hours later, a Bloomberg manager called her husband and said, “Get your wife to delete her tweets.” She refused but did not discuss the issue further online as she needed the company to relocate her family from Beijing to Hong Kong where they would be safe from threats.
Months later her husband was working on a similar story for Bloomberg about financial ties between one of China’s richest men, Wang Jianlin, and the families of senior Communist Party Officials. Bloomberg suddenly killed the story and fired Forsythe over fears they would “be kicked out of China” if they ran the story.
Bloomberg dismissed allegations the company self-censored out of fear of offending the Chinese government. “Nobody thinks that we’re wusses and not willing to stand up and write stories that are of interest to the public and that are factually correct,” Bloomberg said at a press conference in 2013.
Even after firing Forsythe, Bloomberg lawyers in Hong Kong tried to force Forsythe and Fincher to sign NDAs, threatening “to devastate my family financially by forcing us to repay the company for our relocation fees to Hong Kong from Beijing and the advance on my husband’s salary that we took out, leave us with no health insurance or income, and take me to court if I did not sign a nondisclosure agreement — even though I had never been a Bloomberg employee.”
Fincher claimed Bloomberg’s attorney was going to demand they pay thousands of dollars to the company, including his legal fees, if she did not sign the agreement. When she hired the same attorneys who represented Edward Snowden to defend her, Bloomberg backed off.
Fincher said she hadn’t previously written of Bloomberg’s threatening behavior because she didn’t seek publicity and was “terrified” of financial ruin. “I am speaking out now because unlike so many other women, I am not bound by a nondisclosure agreement,” she explained. “Given the large number of women silenced by NDAs, it’s clear that there has been an environment of sexism at Bloomberg’s company. Bloomberg managers and lawyers treated me as though I were a piece of company property, an appendage of my husband, using intimidation and threats to try to bully me into submission.”
Last month, news broke that a number of women who worked for Bloomberg LP had filed lawsuits accusing Bloomberg of making crude remarks and fostering a hostile work environment for women. Bloomberg told ABC News he would not be releasing the women from their NDAs.
“You can't just walk away from it,” Bloomberg said. “They're legal agreements, and for all I know the other side wouldn't want to get out of it.”
Bloomberg has largely stepped away from his leadership role in the company, but maintains a large ownership stake, so much so that Bloomberg News announced it would not be digging into Bloomberg or any of his finances when he jumped into the presidential race. Instead they would cease all investigations of 2020 Democrats and instead focus on the Trump administration and campaign.
Neither Bloomberg News nor the Bloomberg campaign could immediately be reached for comment.