On the June 24 broadcast of ABC's This Week, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper and host George Stephanopoulos, discussing a possible independent presidential run by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, described him as a "liberal Democrat." However, Bloomberg endorsed Bush's re-election in 2004 and has expressed support for the Iraq war and tied it to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In addition, no mention was made of a significant Bloomberg controversy that undermines the assertion that he is a "liberal Democrat": the New York Police Department's (NYPD) surveillance of nonviolent anti-Bush and anti-Iraq war activists and protesters prior to the 2004 Republican National Convention -- a story that, as Media Matters for America noted (here and here), has been covered several times in recent months.
In his August 30, 2004, speech to the Republican National Convention, Bloomberg stated: "The president deserves our support. We are here to support him. And I am here to support him." Moreover, as noted by New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer in his June 23 column (subscription required), Bloomberg has "offer[ed] quiet, unambiguous support" for the war. In particular, Dwyer pointed to a statement of Bloomberg's from May 2004:
In May 2004, a year after the invasion, Mr. Bloomberg served as host to Laura Bush, who had come to New York in an effort to rally support for the war effort. Mrs. Bush visited a memorial for Sept. 11th victims. Standing next to Mrs. Bush, with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Mr. Bloomberg, right, suggested that New Yorkers could find justification for the war at the World Trade Center site, even though no Iraqi is known to have had a hand in the Sept. 11 attacks.
''Don't forget that the war started not very many blocks from here,'' he said that day in 2004.
Furthermore, regarding Bloomberg's handling of the 2004 Republican National Convention, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman reported on May 17 that "[s]ix hundred pages of secret police files were released to the public [on May 16] as the result of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union. They reveal that New York's finest began spying on performers like Jay-Z, LL Cool J, and others, months before they were to perform at a protest rally during the GOP convention." Foreman reported that, according to the released documents, police also "monitored websites and a guy known for throwing pies. They spied on meetings of Billionaires for Bush, who were not for Bush at all. ... While some protesters were self-declared anarchists, most planned performances or marches or theater. One group planned to sing about the war." On May 5, The New York Times reported how a January 23, 2004, "secret key findings" report transformed a self-described "pacifist anarchist['s] ... plea for non-violence" into a series of "recommended new activism strategies with regard to the Republican National Convention."
In March, Bloomberg defended the surveillance activities by saying, "We were not keeping track of political activities. ... We have no interest in doing that." But the New York Times reported on March 28:
[T]he scope of the preconvention operations, in which officers traveled widely, is just emerging from records in federal lawsuits brought as a result of the mass arrests as well as from still secret reports reviewed by The New York Times.
[T]he records show that the police did covertly monitor political activity. Virtually every intelligence report, even those about expressly peaceful groups, described the political viewpoints of the organizations.
As Media Matters noted, in February 2003, a federal judge -- at the request of the city and with Bloomberg's support -- relaxed requirements governing police surveillance of political groups, which the NYPD had agreed to in 1985 in order to settle a lawsuit over surveillance abuses by the NYPD in the 1960s and 1970s. The Times reported on December 22, 2005, that, in that earlier lawsuit, "the city acknowledged that the Police Department had used infiltrators, undercover agents and fake news reporters to spy on yippies, civil rights advocates, antiwar activists, labor organizers and black power groups." The settlement required, in part, "the creation of an oversight panel that included a civilian appointed by the mayor," and also required that the police "have 'specific information' that a crime was in the works before investigating such groups."
From the June 24 broadcast of ABC's This Week, which also included Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria and Washington Post columnist George F. Will:
TAPPER: You know, when you talk to people, Republicans and Democrats, they will tell you that there is an opening, that the country does want some sort of post-partisan leader. They want somebody to get beyond the bickering in Washington. But is Mike Bloomberg the man? I don't know. He seems to me to be basically a very wealthy, successful mayor who's a liberal Democrat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And is liberal -- he definitely is a liberal Democrat. His selling point would be competence, but picking up on what Jake says, Fareed, he is tapping into a national mood.
TAPPER: But the point you're making, George, is that you can envision a third-party candidate who has some of the Democratic Party platform, some of the Republican Party platform, perhaps a little bit more conservative on immigration reform. But when I hear Bloomberg talk, with the exception of his bashing of the two-party system, he's a liberal Democrat. His platform is the liberal Democratic platform.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He supports gay marriage, gun control --
TAPPER: Gay marriage, gun control, pro -- you know, environmental regulations --
ZAKARIA: Fiscally, very pro-market on the other hand, you know, very sound on fiscal issues, common-sensical on foreign policy issues. Look, he's a Democrat, I would agree with that. I don't know how much I'd describe him as a liberal Democrat.