TOPAround Asia: Bloomberg reporter suspended over China story leak

Around Asia: Bloomberg reporter suspended over China story leak

By Alec Jordan

Michael Forsythe, an acclaimed reporter for Bloomberg News, has been suspended on suspicions that he had leaked details about the axing of a controversial story on China.

Bloomberg News was embroiled in a controversy after The New York Times ran a front page story accusing the news organization of killing a story on a wealthy Chinese businessman’s ties with high-level Communist Party officials.

Editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler allegedly spiked the story for fear it would upset the Chinese government and threaten the company’s operations in the country, according to journalists at Bloomberg.

Four main reporters and editors working on the story said they received a call from Winkler asking not to publish the story.

“If we run the story we will be kicked out of China,” he said through conference call.

Forsythe was reportedly escorted out of Bloomberg’s Hong Kong bureau after being pinned down as the person who disclosed the embarassing claims. He was put on unpaid leave and expected to be dismissed, sources said.

Winkler strongly denies the charge and there was still no official word from Forsythe to confirm this.

“As everyone knows we have been the focus of media attention because of our reporting on China. We were accused of withholding production of recent reporting because of external or international pressure. It isn’t true.”

The story at issue may expose links between Wang Jianlin, the founder of real estate group Dalian Wanda and China’s richest man, and affluent politicians and their families, several people familiar with the report said.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of Bloomberg offices in New York: John Simoudis/Flickr