Bloomberg News corrects false claim GOP pulled ad buys after Trump campaign demanded retraction

Bloomberg News was forced to issue a correction to a story claiming that Republicans had pulled ad buys from the battleground state of Florida after being blasted by the Trump campaign for the false claim.

Initially, the outlet reported that President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign had pulled $5.5 million in advertising from the Sunshine State in order to focus on four battlegrounds — Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

But the outlet failed to note that spending was being replaced with a $4 million in ad spending by the Republican National Committee, for an aggregate of about $4.3 million.

The report came as the outlet’s billionaire founder, Michael Bloomberg, is pouring $15 million into ad buys in Florida in support of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Bloomberg spent more than $500 million of his own money on a failed bid for the Democratic nomination this election cycle.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, blasted Bloomberg News in a tweet, demanding that the initial story be retracted.

“The Bloomberg story about Trump campaign ad buying is horribly wrong & must be retracted.  It is wrong in every aspect. Not even a call to the campaign before publishing. They used quotes from me taken from a conversation on ANOTHER TOPIC. Sloppy reporting at the highest level,” he tweeted.

“Good job @bpolitics for completely botching this story today and reporting exactly the opposite. Without even contacting the campaign for comment or to verify. And using quotes from me from a conversation on a different topic made to look like I confirmed it,” he added in a subsequent post with the hashtag “#Journalism.”

Matthew Wolking, the Trump campaign’s deputy director of communications, also blasted the outlet. “Mike Bloomberg’s company is spreading fake news about Florida advertising at the same time that Mike Bloomberg is advertising in Florida for Joe Biden,” he wrote on Twitter.

In a statement, Murtaugh rapped the Bloomberg story as being “horribly wrong,” saying it “should never have been written.” He added that “the campaign, with the RNC coordinated buy, is up with a seven figure buy in Florida on broadcast TV alone.”

“In addition in Florida, we are up with six figures in local cable, six figures in Spanish language, and six figures on radio. Our ad buying week by week in the state has been consistent, and the reporting on this issue demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of how ad buying works,” he said.

The first report was edited to include the information about the RNC taking over the ad purchase for the Trump campaign. “Corrects story to include context that was missing from earlier version on additional spending planned by the Republican National Committee on Trump’s behalf,” the updated version says.

The Trump campaign also said the RNC’s announcement last week that it had launched a $55 million ad purchase was a 40-percent increase in spending over previous plans.

Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign is set to spend $8.7 million in Florida, which Trump won in 2016 with 48.6 percent of voters versus 47.4 percent for rival Hillary Clinton.

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Jon Dougherty

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