In a remarkable display of news outlets caving to pressure from the big banks they are meant to hold to account, an accomplished Bloomberg News Reporter named Shahien Nasiripour was taken off his beat and assigned to cover the Trump Organization at the behest of the Wells Fargo CEO himself. The events were initiated after Nasiripour wrote an article about Wells Fargo being the “preferred financier for the U.S. gun industry” which was published in March 2018 and detailed the bank’s relationship with the National Rifle Association (NRA).
According to the article, Wells Fargo helped two of the biggest U.S. firearm and ammunition companies access $431.1 million in loans and bonds since December 2012, when the gun control debate was raging hot due to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
He also explained that Wells Fargo has had a long relationship with the NRA, which it inherited from banks which it took over. Wells Fargo created a $28 million line of credit for the NRA and operates the NRA’s primary accounts.
Following the publication of that story, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan sent a memo to employees responding to the article which The Wall Street Journal obtained and published a story on. After that Journal’s story, Nasiripour asked the public relations team at Wells Fargo if they would provide him with a copy of the memo for his own follow up story in Bloomberg, however, a Wells Fargo representative declined the request. People briefed on the matter told CNN about how this led to a heated phone conversation between Nasiripour and the Wells Fargo representative.
Following the conversation, Nasiripour was ordered by Caroline Gage, the global executive editor for finance at Bloomberg News to apologise to the Well Fargo public relations team for his conduct during the call. Nasiripour did so, but tension between Bloomberg and Wells Fargo remained.
CNN reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that later in March Bloomberg News Editor-In-Chief John Micklethwait ordered Nasiripour to a meeting with him in which he explained that Wells Fargo CEO, Timothy J. Sloan had personally called him to complain about Nasiripour’s behavior. That was when Micklethwait reassigned Nasiripour away from the Wells Fargo beat, and onto the Trump Organization.
Since the incident, three senior banking reporters have left the news organization. Hugh Son departed for CNBC, Dakin Campbell for Business Insider, and Laura Keller left for an as-yet-unannounced job.