As former New York City Mayor and 2020 Presidential Candidate, Michael Bloomberg rapidly rises in state and national polls thanks to vast and unprecedented financial resources for a presidential campaign, his candidacy is facing increasing scrutiny as the campaign edges closer to Super Tuesday on March 3rd, where he hopes to make a splash in the 15 contests to be held that day.
A recent example of this increased scrutiny comes from Benjamin Dixon, a prominent online podcast host of The Benjamin Dixon Show. Dixon found and shared a 2015 audio clip of Bloomberg speaking at Colorado’s Aspen Institute in which the former mayor comments on New York City’s infamous “stop and frisk” policing policy, which disproportionately targeted communities of color.
“Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O,” Bloomberg said in the clip.
“You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city. We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes. That’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them.”
The audio quickly went viral after Dixon shared the clip along with the hashtag #BloombergIsARacist, propelling Bloomberg’s record on race and policing into the national discourse.
The following is a transcript of The Globe Post‘s interview with Dixon.
You can listen to the full audio version of the interview here.
The Globe Post: Good morning, Benjamin. How are you?
Dixon: Well, how are you?
TGP: Great. So to start, tell me a little bit about yourself and your show and what you do.
Dixon: Yes. So I’m Benjamin Dixon and I host The Benjamin Dixon Show. It’s a daily news and politics podcast, mainly politics. And I have been in media, independent media for six years and yeah, I guess there are two sides to what I do. It’s one-half journalism and the other half, political activism, progressive activism in terms of how I use my show. Sometimes I just report the facts and then sometimes I try to move everybody into action.
TGP: Ok, great. So tell me a little bit about this footage of Bloomberg that you came across it and how you came across that. How did that come about exactly?
Dixon: Yeah, it was actually I was doing prep work, my normal morning prep work for the show, and I was shifting gears. I decided on Friday to shift gears to focus on Michael Bloomberg because up until that point, most of my energy had been focused on Pete Buttigieg and opposition to him, and then on like Friday, it just hit me. I said ‘you know what? We have this guy who’s sitting on the outside of the democratic process waiting to purchase our election. I think we need to focus on him.’
So I started doing some basic research. Obviously, everyone thinks of stop and frisk. So some basic Google searches led me to a video by The Blaze and Dana Loesch from NRA TV, and it was a conservative spin on audio or rather as a transcript that they had of Michael Bloomberg. Michael Bloomberg was talking about Xeroxing a copy of black men. So the NRA took a conservative spin on it, saying, you know, this is a racist attack on black men’s ability to own guns, their Second Amendment right.
There was no audio or video in that presentation that she gave. So I just Googled the text that she was sharing, you know, Xerox, Bloomberg, Aspen, some keywords. It took me to the Aspen Times piece and I think I forgot the gentleman’s name but his piece was pretty thorough and had a lot of information in it, but I did not see any audio or video.
So I started, I said, let me go to YouTube. Let me just do a search. Maybe there, Karl. That’s his name! Karl Herchenroeder. And so I did a YouTube search and there were like two versions of it, and, you know, I just cross reference. I’m like, OK, yeah. No, These are his exact words. This is what the article says, this is what NRA TV said, and here it is in his own words. I just chopped it up, cleaned it up and used it.
TGP: Ok. And then CNN Correspondent Cristina Alesci recently called your reporting into question by implying bias against Bloomberg. So how do you push back on that?
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) February 11, 2020
Dixon: So I think it’s patently obvious to anyone who saw what she did. Right. I think this is a perfect example of the mainstream media not doing the news. Not doing actual reporting and instead advocating. She did not disclose that she was a former employee of Bloomberg Television. She posed questions as to how did I find this information? Well, sis, go look it up. Google. some basic stuff.
This was not an investigative piece. This was high school research. This was throw something in a search engine and you’ll find it, so that’s strike two if you’re a journalist. She used her platform to cast doubt on me to protect Bloomberg and that’s exactly what ruins the reputation of the news media and emboldens someone like Donald Trump to call them fake news because, in that moment, she was doing nothing more than spreading fake news.
TGP: So I guess, you know, there are several instances where independent media have been out ahead of mainstream press recently. Why is that and why is it so important to have a robust independent media apparatus?
Dixon: So, I mean, what we did this week and I say we because it was the independent media network that I’m a part of, as well as all of the people on social media, on Twitter who are in this apparatus. So it’s bottom-up. Independent media is bottom-up. You’re held accountable by your audience because they could interact with you directly on Twitter or YouTube or the comments section.
If you’re full of, excuse my language, if you’re full of bullshit, no matter if you’re saying something they want to hear, the audience has the ability to call you out immediately. So there’s a level of authenticity that has to come and integrity that you have to have in independent media, especially if you’re dealing with an audience that’s authentic and has integrity.
CNN and the mainstream media, they don’t have to worry about that because they’re in their bubble. They never have to hear feedback, and they could always just cut off their comments on the YouTube channel or never look at it. And so the importance of independent media is that we are held to a higher standard because we have direct contact with the audience, that’s consuming it number one. But number two, we have the ability to be flexible and to go and report stories that won’t be suppressed.
Recall the Ronan Farrow issue with NBC right? They suppressed that story. So independent media, there’s no way in hell we’d put that shit out on day one. If anything, we move too quickly, but we move quickly because we’re in a space where we just have the freedom to be truthful so we can move fast.
But the last thing is that network, right? It was so important. This piece has been out there for five years. The Aspen Times piece was out five years ago. The audio was out five years ago and what made the difference this time was, besides a couple of best practices there are some independent media best practices that I took. Yes. But what really made the difference was that independent media network. The fact that I could send it to Kyle Kulinski, David Pakman, Sam Seder. I could send it to Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept. I could send it to… name them! We have a network that could make an impact and we collectively forced it into the national conversation.
TGP: Great. OK. And then kind of circling back around to Bloomberg. Why shift your focus to him in particular? What about his candidacy is so uniquely troubling to you compared to the others?
Dixon: So I initially thought Pete Buttigieg was the threat in this race because for reasons that, you know, tell them they can listen to the podcast to figure out why I had a problem with Pete, but Michael Bloomberg has something uniquely different than anyone else because he’s buying our democracy with what is equivalent to pocket change.
He’s buying up all of the airtime on radio, television, on the Internet. The ad buys, we’re like at $350 million. That is obscene. He is buying up all of the labor. Other campaigns are having a hard time finding consultants because he’s buying them all. He’s buying up all of the endorsements by indirectly buying them right? He’s not paying for endorsements, but indirectly he’ll still invest in there or he’ll be philanthropic and pour money into their organization to their 501(c)(3). And lo and behold, ‘oh, I’m going to endorse Michael Bloomberg.’ He can buy silence. Whereas, you know, Stacey Abrams has not come out to endorse him.
Stacey Abrams is the gubernatorial candidate here in Georgia who is probably one of the most powerful African-American women in politics. Her campaign here, her Fair Fight voting campaign, just received five million dollars from Bloomberg and a photo op. He came down for a photo op. Do you think she’s gonna say something negative about Bloomberg? Especially in light of all this evidence that is coming out of this racism.
Then he’s paying these kids, right? He’s paying the staff twice as much as they can get anywhere else. He’s doing all of this with his personal money. Now, I want to backtrack to say this. I’m not throwing any salt at Stacey Abrams because she needs the money to do the amazing work that she’s doing here, or the kids that are taking the $6000 a month when every other campaign could only pay the $3000 a month.
The problem is not the individuals who need the money. The problem is the fact that they need the money and all of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of one man and he’s able to buy this election with his pocket change. It’s equivalent to you going to buy a Snickers bar. He is buying our democracy. Now, this is where my activism kicks in. Obviously, right? I’m not a journalist right now. I’m advocating against a man who has enough wealth that buying the American democracy is equivalent to you buying a snicker bar.
TGP: Being that you’re shifting your focus to him, can we expect further exposes on Mike Bloomberg from you in the future?
Dixon: I think exposes are hitting every single day because they’ve all been here and they’ve all been in plain sight. The only thing we have happening right now is people who are telling their stories. We’re shifting gears to the real human impact of what happened in New York. #MyBloombergStory. It’s a series of stories, some videos, some text, some written where they’re explaining their encounter with his stop and frisk policy. And you hear the impact.
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 13, 2020
You hear how it’s really, with one video I shared like you can see this guy still bothered by what happened 20 years or 15 years ago when he was a teenager. Actually, he’s probably a little bit younger than that. So however long ago it happened when you look at the video, you can see that this harmed him.
Right now we’re focusing on in terms of my energy, we’re focusing on the real stories of people who were harmed by it, but the exposes are happening every day. If anything, I think this kicked everyone into gear to go ahead to vet this guy because things are dropping left and right that have been in plain sight just like the audio that I found. These sexism allegations, the attack on minimum wage, the attack on immigration rights. You know, all of these troubling things that are out there and that have been out there about dropping every single day.
TGP: Yeah. Okay. Well, that that basically covers everything. I wanted to ask you, so before you wrap up, why don’t you tell people where they can find your show?
TGP: All right, great. Well, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Dixon: My pleasure. Take care.