Radio host (and Post contributor) Hugh Hewitt’s job is to make news with his interviews, a goal that he seemed to fulfill on Wednesday morning.
Among Hewitt’s guests was Stephanie Ruhle, currently an energetic daytime host at MSNBC who formerly worked under Michael Bloomberg as on-air talent on Bloomberg TV. After Hewitt declared Bloomberg a “Trump killer,” Ruhle spoke of her history at Bloomberg’s company. “I was at Bloomberg TV, so I was very close with Mike then. I remain close with Mike now,” said Ruhle, who said she thought Bloomberg would run for president. The former three-term mayor of New York and billionaire businessman is pondering a presidential run as a Democrat, after having concluded that an independent run would provide a boost to President Trump’s reelection prospects.
Unaware of Ruhle’s history with Bloomberg, Hewitt asked if Ruhle would work as press secretary in a Bloomberg White House. “I would definitely be open to it,” said Ruhle. Based on that comment, the transcribed conversation was packaged on Hewitt’s site under the headline, “Stephanie Ruhle on Michael Bloomberg: Is Press Secretary Ruhle In The Future?”
Later Wednesday on MSNBC, Ruhle expressed dissatisfaction with the title. “Earlier today, I was on the Hugh Hewitt Show ... Hugh asked me, would I be open to being Mike Bloomberg’s press secretary? I jokingly said, ‘Sure, I’m open to anything.’ I see headlines already crossing saying I’m up for that job. That’s absurd. And as a private citizen, if any sitting president called me for a meeting on any job, I would obviously take that meeting. Hugh Hewitt, shame on you. This is a false headline.”
Bolding added for a correction: Ruhle didn’t, in fact, say she was “open to anything.” She said she’d be “open to it.” Perhaps she meant that she’d be “open to anything.” Also, if Ruhle really said that in jest, she’s a master at deadpan.
The episode matters not because Ruhle sniped at Hewitt on her cable-news program. It matters because in today’s world, where the titans of media and politics intermingle more and more, these sorts of conflicts arise more and more. Credit Ruhle with transparency: She declared that she was close to Bloomberg and remains so; that’s understandable given her work history. Such disclosures should spill forth whenever Ruhle covers Bloomberg on her show.
But the bit about being “open” to working for a Bloomberg White House represents another level of commitment. Though journalists in the past have indeed taken press secretary gigs — see Jay Carney under President Obama and Tony Snow under President Bush — opening the door to speculation about the possibility years before a potential Bloomberg administration — well, that’s super-transparent. Wall Street Journal reporter Julie Bykowicz asked on Twitter:
We’ve asked MSNBC for comment and will update if a response arrives.