Newsom hopes to broker a peace treaty in California’s water war. Some worry he’ll cave to Trump

Gov. Gavin Newsom may be piloting a lifeboat that will rescue the sinking California Delta. Or he may be in water over his head on a doomed mission.

The governor gets angry with skeptics who say he’s being delusional. But history sides with the doubters.

“I love reading all that, ‘Hey, he’s naive. He’s being misled,’” Newsom recently told a forum sponsored by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, his voice rising with a touch of sarcasm.

“It means we’re doing something a little different.”


No California water hole has been fought over more than the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It’s right up there with the Owens Valley and the state’s share of the Colorado River.

The delta supplies water for 27 million people and irrigates 3 million acres. California’s economy depends, in large part, on its health.

But the delta’s ecology has been declining, primarily because water from rivers has been diverted for agriculture before it reaches the West Coast’s largest estuary. And the water that does make it there has been overpumped through fish-chomping monstrosities into southbound aqueducts.

This has devastated native fish — salmon, steelhead, smelt — and prompted courts to occasionally tighten the spigots on water pumped to San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities.


To succeed in fixing the delta, Newsom must navigate through eternally warring interests: San Joaquin Valley agriculture and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on one side, and delta farmers, the coastal fishing industry and environmentalists on the other.

Making the current dispute even more intense, the president and the governor now are in a spat over water for the first time in modern history. Newsom got dragged in reluctantly.

“I don’t need to be told, ‘You need to be tough against the Trump administration,’” Newsom said at the PPIC forum. “Give me a break. I know that.”

Newsom’s delta rescue plan basically involves everyone getting along, compromising and singing “Kumbaya.” But that normally hasn’t worked in the past.

Water wars are second nature in the West. California has been fighting over water since statehood.

In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger muscled a ballyhooed bill through the Legislature that was heralded as a wonderwork. It was supposed to restore the delta and stabilize water deliveries. So far, it has belly-flopped.

It led to Gov. Jerry Brown proposing construction of two monster tunnels to siphon fresh Sacramento River water from the north delta directly into the southbound aqueducts, reducing use of the fish-killing pumps. But delta communities and environmentalists loudly protested the loss of fresh water. And the project’s $17-billion cost was too much for many water districts anyway.

So Newsom scaled back the proposal to one tunnel, which is still being planned. Nothing about it is certain.


Newsom “seems to be chasing this white whale of voluntary agreements,” says Doug Obegi, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It feels like the state is trying to adapt more to Trump [environmental protection] rollbacks rather than forcing the Trump administration to adjust to California values.”

The Newsom administration denies it’s leaning toward Trump’s views.

Newsom has pulled the warring interests — mainly San Joaquin Valley irrigators, the Metropolitan Water District and environmentalists — into efforts to reach voluntary agreements on river flows, delta pumping and habitat improvements.

Newsom is so committed to the negotiations that in September he vetoed state Senate leader Toni Atkins’ anti-Trump environmental protection bill, SB 1. Under the measure, if Trump weakened federal environmental protections, they’d automatically be adopted by California. But water districts threatened to walk out of talks with Newsom if he signed the legislation. So he didn’t.

“I’m trying to put together a peace plan in the delta,” says Wade Crowfoot, Newsom’s secretary of the Natural Resources Agency.

“I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but there’s beginning to be a sea change in many of these water users. They’re just tired of fighting.”

But why would agriculture interests compromise with Newsom, at least until they learn whether Trump can win reelection in November? His interior secretary is one of their own: former Westlands Water District lobbyist David Bernhardt.


Because, Crowfoot says, the state still can set environmental protection regulations that govern both the federal Central Valley and state water projects.

But environmentalists fear that Newsom will cave in to Trump and valley growers and offer a deal too good for them to reject.

Last November, the Trump administration announced plans to roll back endangered species protections and export more delta water to Central Valley Project customers. The state threatened to sue but never did — despite loud pressure from environmentalists — until last week. That’s when Trump flew to California and flamboyantly signed an order implementing the plan.

Newsom sued, but expressed hope that the state, the feds and the warring parties could compromise. Then he’d drop the suit.

“You want to get into lawsuits? You want to screw this person, screw that person, spending seven years getting nothing done?” Newsom asserted testily at the Jan. 29 PPIC forum. “I’m the wrong person in this job. That’s so easy.…

“The world is changing. We have to change with it.… Putting the old binaries aside, getting off our high horse. Recognizing that we need each other.”

If Newsom can pull this off, it would truly be a remarkable achievement. But can irrigators and environmentalists fit in the same lifeboat? They never have.

Chinese hacking: 5 major cases of Beijing-linked cyber intrusion

Amid the growing political and economic influence of China, attention has turned to Beijing’s concerted efforts to collect data on Americans and steal scientific research.

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised then-President Barack Obama that his country would stop such practices. But, China has continued its intrusion into U.S. cybersecurity unabated.

Here are five major cyberattacks linked to China:


Earlier this month, the Justice Department charged four members of the Chinese military with breaking into the computer networks of the credit-reporting agency Equifax and stealing the personal information of millions of Americans.

The four defendants, all members of the People’s Liberation Army,  also stood accused of stealing Equifax’s trade secrets.

Experts monitoring the dark web said they saw no evidence of data stolen in the Equifax hack being sold to common criminals for ID theft and credit card fraud, suggesting Beijing’s motive was more about espionage than stealing trade secrets.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

In June 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that it had been targeted in a cyberattack that compromised the personal data of over 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced it was the victim of a massive cyberattack in 2015.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced it was the victim of a massive cyberattack in 2015. (Facebook/@USOPM)

Although the first hacker was detected in March 2014, a second intruder went undetected until April 2015, by which time data on security clearances, background checks, and fingerprint records had been extracted, investigators said. A House inquiry found the hack likely was the work of “Deep Panda,” a group linked to the Chinese military.

Marriott International

Marriott International announced in November 2018 that it had suffered a security breach on a massive scale, with the personal details of approximately 500 million guests having been exposed.

As early as 2014, hackers began extracting data, including credit and passport numbers, birth dates, phone numbers, and hotel arrival and departure dates on Marriott’s guests. The breach went undetected for four years and affected hotels in the Starwood chain that Marriott acquired in 2016, officials said.

Analysts noted that information from hotels – common venues for extramarital affairs and corporate espionage – could be used for blackmail and counterespionage. Attorney General William Barr has blamed the hack on Chinese agents.


Between 2014 and 2015, hackers stole personal data on nearly 80 million current and former customers and employees of Anthem, an Indiana-based health insurer. Stolen data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, employment details, incomes and street addresses.

Officials with Symantec, a cybersecurity firm, said the hack was believed to be the work of a well-resourced Chinese group called Black Vine that had been conducting cyber espionage against aerospace, energy and health care industries.


U.S. Universities

In March 2019, iDefense, a cybersecurity intelligence unit of Accenture Security, reported that several American universities had been targeted by Chinese hackers looking to steal maritime military technology and secrets.


The cybersecurity unit had identified the targeted universities by observing that their networks were pinging servers located in China that were suspected to be controlled by a Chinese hacking group known interchangeably as TEMP.Persicope, Leviathan, or Mudcarp, according to reporting from The Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ANNA SMITH: A love letter to my city

A little over a week ago, we hosted a Valentine’s breakfast for my sons’ grandparents, cousins, their parents and our dear sitters that help keep this boat afloat and love on our two kids like they are their own. I consider it the season for love and like to celebrate the people we’re most thankful for in unconventional ways all month long.

My husband and I skipped a fancy dinner on the 14th in exchange for pizza with our boys (although we did enjoy a deliciously quiet meal at Dot x Ott on the 15th, noticeably absent of regular shifts bouncing and comforting a newborn and negotiating with an increasingly independent toddler.) Our 2-year-old helped craft homemade love notes and picked out sparkly dump truck favors for guests.

Without the time to make each dish from scratch, our breakfast displayed some of the best local food in this city. We served heart waffles topped with local fruit, Moo Creamery quiches and granola filled with locally harvested nuts. We ordered a kiddo platter with toddler-approved bites from Native Graze Boards and locally brewed roasted coffee.

Remnants of candy conversation hearts and Smith’s Bakery cinnamon thumbprints are still strewn about our house, the aftermath of all the fun. We strung heart banners, blew up pink and red heart balloons and printed Valentine-themed coloring pages for the kids.

In preparation for this party, as I reflected on the many things I am grateful for, I kept circling back to thoughts of my hometown. I write in this column a lot about collections of people in the form of cities, of the image we attribute to this space and idea of contributing to our home base in meaningful ways.

I often mention the idea of “home” and what it means to me, so I thought it fitting to write a love letter to this city, a place that has helped mold and shape the person I am today. Our memories stitch the story of our lives together in moments that we can smell, taste and experience more than we can easily narrate. Most of our memories exist in the space — the city — we call home. We could all do a little better at acknowledging what makes it so special.

Dear Bakersfield,

You know how to come alive at just the right moment — on Halloween with gaggles of costume-clad children roaming the wide streets swinging orange buckets filled with treats, at Christmas with twinkling neighborhood lights, at festive Fourth of July parades or with rare rain clouds on days that I feel reflective and sentimental.

I find comfort in the familiarity, the smell of blooms from citrus groves on springtime drives through the outskirts, to the sight of heat rising on oil derricks from Panorama, to the sound of church bells from First Presbyterian Church downtown.

Only in Bakersfield is it socially acceptable to wait in a crowded room with a glass of bad house wine for a family-style dinner at communal tables that includes pickled tongue, roll your eyes at newcomers asking where the lingering smell originates (wintertime: the dairy farms; summertime: the onion fields), celebrate when the temperature rests below 100 degrees in July, complain about having to walk a block from your parking space to the shop’s front door or whine about a five-minute delay in your commute from a construction backup.

You have always been unique in ways that we are only just now labeling as cool. You do not look or function like any other city in California, and we should celebrate it. You’re full of authentic experiences. You’ve got swagger with the twangy Bakersfield Sound. You’re a foodie’s paradise, pairing culturally authentic experiences with delicious dishes.

There have been many moments when I bemoan your lack of public spaces, the dismal literacy and obesity rates, the hot summer weather and dearth of support for creativity, art and culture. While a lot of these things are improving, I often want change to happen faster, happen further.

Despite all this, I have fallen for you, for this city.

Bakersfield, as I dream about how the next decade will shape you, I hope you can continue to mature in ways that make us all proud. You must know, though, that I’m going to be tough on you … because I love you.

Italy’s coronavirus outbreak is the biggest outside of Asia

Israel’s ministry of health has announced the country’s second case of coronavirus. A man who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who returned to Israel last week, tested positive for the disease.

The first case of coronavirus was announced on Friday. A woman who had also returned from the Diamond Princess tested positive following a check in Israel.

In addition, the number of Israeli citizens instructed to place themselves under self-quarantine has jumped to more than 700, Ministry of Health Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov told Channel 12 News. More than 300 of those came into close contact with a group of visiting South Korean tourists who tested positive for the disease upon returning home, Siman Tov said. 

Another 400 Israeli citizens who have returned from East Asian countries where coronavirus is spreading have also been told to remain home and avoid public spaces for 14 days, in accordance with Ministry of Health instructions.

As of Sunday evening, the Ministry said 18 members of the South Korean tour group tested positive for coronavirus upon returning to their home country.

By the numbers: In a precautionary move, Israel barred foreign nationals from participating in the upcoming Tel Aviv marathon, scheduled for this Friday. The race will proceed with approximately 40,000 Israeli runners, but 3,000 foreign participants will not be allowed to run.

CicLAvia open streets festival comes to South L.A. on Sunday

Six miles of Central Avenue in South Los Angeles will be closed to cars on Sunday as walkers, joggers and bicyclists take to the streets for CicLAvia.

The open streets festival will run from East Adams Boulevard to East 103rd Street between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., organizers said.

“When you take the cars off the streets, you open it up to people,” said Romel Pascual, executive director of CicLAvia. “When you open the streets up on a Sunday, we hope that they look at the streets differently on a Monday.”


Running north-south, there will be seven designated crossing points for cars.

The route runs parallel to the Metro A (Blue) Line, with nearby stops between the San Pedro Street Station and 103rd Street/Watts Towers Station. The top of the route is also about a mile from the Metro E (Expo) Line at the Jefferson/USC Station.

CicLAvia South Los Angeles is the 35th iteration of the event and is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). CicLAvia is modeled after a car-free event that happens every Sunday in Bogota, Colombia.

The event is intended to promote a clean environment and good health while encouraging residents to interact with others and to explore their city in new ways.

John Fund: Bernie Sanders’ projected Nevada victory leaves Dem establishment scrambling – Can he be stopped?

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ projected victory Saturday in the Nevada Democratic caucuses is a big loss for members of the party’s establishment who are hoping a more moderate candidate captures the Democratic presidential nomination to challenge President Trump.

Many Democratic Party leaders fear that Sanders, I-Vt. – who describes himself as a democratic socialist and calls for a political revolution – is too radical to win the general election in November. They want some of the other seven candidates still in the race to drop out to clear the way for one of them to stop Sander
s’ march to the nomination before he becomes unstoppable.

Sanders lost the 2016 Nevada caucuses in a one-on-one race against Hillary Clinton by six points. But as votes were still being counted Saturday night, he was getting more than twice as many votes as his closest rival in the caucuses – former Vice President Joe Biden.


Like Donald Trump in the Republican nomination battle in 2016, Sanders has become the implausible front-runner for the Democratic nomination. And like Trump, he doesn’t seem to be hurt when his rivals call him names.

“A lot of it is the same thing you saw happening in the Republican establishment four years ago,” said Matt Bennett, a founder of the moderate think tank Third Way.  “Suddenly in April they woke up and realized that Donald Trump could actually win.”

As of now, the same kind of nightmare that gripped the Republican establishment during Trump’s 2016 primary sweep is haunting Democrats. They are no closer to finding a single challenger to take away Sanders’ front-runner status than Republicans were to blocking Trump from getting the GOP nomination four years ago.


Recall that in 2016 the Republican establishment – and just about everyone else – was convinced there was no way Trump would defeat eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the presidential election that year.

Saturday’s caucus results from Nevada created a muddle in the Democratic nomination race similar to what Republicans experienced in the last presidential election.

As of now, none of the moderates in the Democratic race has a compelling reason to drop out, because at this point none stands out from the pack as a strong challenger to Sanders.

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If Biden can hold onto his distant second-place finish in Nevada when all the votes are counted, his showing will breathe new life into his flagging candidacy. But in early returns, the other challengers were bunched up far behind him.

If Sanders keeps picking up delegates in a large Democratic field and goes into the party’s national convention with a plurality of votes, the Democratic establishment risks a massive backlash from his followers if he is denied the nomination because the party’s superdelegates coalesce around one of his competitors.

Like Donald Trump in the Republican nomination battle in 2016, Sanders has become the implausible front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

That backlash could result in some Sanders supporters sitting out the election or voting for a third-party candidate in November, increasing Trump’s reelection chances. And Trump could be counted on to make a pitch to win the votes of some disaffected Sanders supporters.

Under Democratic Party rules, if a candidate fails to win a majority of the 3,979 convention delegates selected in caucuses and primaries, the 771 superdelegates will get to vote in a second round of voting. That will mean a candidate will need a majority of 4,750 delegates to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

The superdelegates are the very definition of the Democratic establishment. They include members of the Democratic National Committee, House and Senate Democrats, and some former elected officials and party leaders.

Alone among the Democratic presidential candidates, Sanders has said that whichever candidate enters the convention with the most delegates should become the nominee – even without a majority of delegates, and before the superdelegates cast ballots.

“Any attempt to derail Bernie that I’ve ever seen has always blown up in the face of the derailer,” Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told The New York Times. Dean is no Bernie Bro, but he admires the political skills of his fellow Vermonter. “It’s an amazing phenomenon. I do not know what the magic is, but there is some.”

Now Democrats are asking themselves the question: Is it really possible that the party could nominate a democratic socialist for president? Not that long ago, a socialist label would be the kiss of death for a candidate for the party’s presidential nomination.

Sanders’ win in Nevada comes on the heels of his first-place showing in the popular vote in the Iowa caucuses and his New Hampshire primary victory. In Nevada he proved he could reach beyond a largely white electorate – in 2016, only 59 percent of Nevada caucus-goers were white.


But if the Silver State shone kindly on Sanders’ minority outreach, it was cruel to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  Only days after delivering an acclaimed debate performance that roasted “Billionaire Bloomberg,” it now looks as if she will come in behind Biden in Nevada’s caucuses. She could even come in behind billionaire Tom Steyer, a poor man’s Bloomberg who failed to even make the stage in the Wednesday night debate in Las Vegas.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are expected to join Warren in fighting on for the Democratic presidential nomination, despite poor showings in Nevada.

The wild card candidate remains former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, with a net worth estimated at more than $60 billion. He has reported spending $464 million of his own money on his campaign as of Feb. 1, but skipped the first four nominating contests.


Despite a dismal performance in the debate in Las Vegas, Bloomberg’s virtually unlimited campaign budget could make him a factor when he faces voters in 14 states March 3 on Super Tuesday. How big a factor? We’ll know soon.

But while the outcome of the Democratic race remains in doubt, it’s clear there is one winner of the process so far: President Trump, who surely can barely believe his luck at the chaos swirling around his adversaries.


Final preference votes vs. county delegates: What’s the difference?

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg visits a caucus site Saturday, February 22, in Las Vegas. Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg visits a caucus site Saturday, February 22, in Las Vegas. John Locher?AP

As Pete Buttigieg’s campaign watches the results come in, it believes it has an opportunity to amass a sizable number of county delegates in rural counties where populations are smaller, according to a Buttigieg aide.

The campaign has 1,300 precinct captains across the state and it believes their presence, particularly in the rural counties, will help during realignment, the aide said. They believe if Buttigieg is viable in a specific precinct, having volunteers on site who know their communities, their neighbors and the realignment process is a real advantage to attract voters from other candidates who weren’t viable. 

Their organizing strategy is focused on maximizing delegates, the aide added. This is a similar strategy the Buttigieg campaign had in Iowa — which it believes aided Buttigieg’s narrow victory even though Bernie Sanders won the popular vote.

Downtown businesses eye voluntary contributions for private security

A new, private-security model emerging in downtown Bakersfield proposes to supplement city-funded efforts by allowing individual business and property owners to pool their money in support of regular patrols and alarm response-type attention.

The plan being discussed by leadership within Bakersfield’s Downtown Business Association is aimed at addressing persistent problems with vandalism, theft and vagrancy in an area that is otherwise gaining steam.

A quirk in the proposal is that, because participation would be voluntary, some businesses would receive attention by private security but others would not.

“You’d have to be on the list,” DBA President and CEO Melanie Farmer said.


Still in the planning stages, the proposal has grown out of frustration that the Bakersfield Police Department still has not been able to put new tax revenues to use deploying additional officers on the street to make a strong impact on downtown crime.

Businesses have also complained that they aren’t seeing enough of the city-contracted private patrols that since September have provided “eyes and ears” for BPD until it can get new officers ready for work.

What has emerged is somewhat similar to the kind of service proposed when several years ago the DBA was pushing what’s called a property-based improvement district.

That system would have taxed downtown businesses or property owners uniformly to fund various services, like sidewalk cleanup and promotions. By comparison, the services now being contemplated would be administered by the DBA mainly as a way to save money through shared contributions.

Cost-related details were not available as the DBA continues to evaluate whether to proceed with the proposal.


The company working with the DBA to make the service available, M&S Security Services Inc., said it already has many clients downtown that pay for service on either a per-incident or a monthly subscription basis.

Co-owner and President Marvin Fuller said either payment option is available to the DBA. He noted his patrol people don’t carry guns and can’t force people off public property, but that they do forcibly escort trespassers off private property and, like anyone else, can arrest wrongdoers.

He added that business owners criticizing the private service contracted by the city, Trans-West Security Services Inc., might misunderstand its intent.

“They (business owners) were expecting (Trans-West’s service) to be a cure-all and it’s not,” Fuller said. “What we need is more police officers to be on the street.”


Not everyone likes the idea of paying out of their pocket to fund security.

Downtown property owner Robert Massey, who said he has not been approached by DBA about the program, said he doesn’t think businesses or residents should have to pay for services he considers public. To him, the idea exposes flaws in the half-cent sales tax approved in 2018, Measure N.

“The revenue from Measure N was supposed to be used to increase the safety of our downtown corridor by providing more officers and increasing response time,” he said by email.

City officials noted that Trans-West’s services, which cost taxpayers $360,000 per year, were put in place until BPD can hire and deploy 100 new officers. They said the interim services are intended to spot crime in all of Bakersfield’s high-crime areas, not just downtown.


City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose Ward 2 includes parts of downtown, pointed to city data showing virtually across-the-board improvements in rates of crime such as graffiti and loitering during Trans-West’s first three months on the job.

He said he welcomed business owners to do what they can to tackle crime, such as shopping center tenants paying for cleanup of common areas.

Trans-West did not respond to a request for comment.

Downtown business owner Dixie Brewer, who serves as chairwoman of the DBA’s year-old neighborhood watch-like system called Block to Block, said she likes the M&S Security proposal because company security personnel can eject offenders from her store. She noted her business has already hired the company on a per-incident basis.

Tim Gojich, owner of Fit for Life Gym on 19th Street, said he hired private security after two large windows were knocked out of his building in December. He said the proposed voluntary service might save money if several businesses put their money together to pay for regular patrols and security interventions.

But he’s not sure that a version of the proposal he heard about, one that would extend all the way to Union Avenue, would provide effective coverage because of its large size.


Mike McCoy, who is a block captain with DBA’s Block to Block initiative, said he has seen voluntary, privately funded security programs work well in other cities, such as Visalia.

What would probably be needed, however, is a “critical mass” of businesses participating.

“You always have the people that don’t participate or decide not to. It just doesn’t make a perfect situation,” he said.

Roommate, boyfriend arrested in triple homicide in Riverside County

Police have identified a 20-year-old woman and her boyfriend as suspects in the slayings of three of her roommates, who were found dead inside a Riverside County home.

Hemet’s interim Police Chief Eddie Pust said Friday that the 20-year-old woman, Jordan Guzman, lived at the home and had a “dispute over a rental agreement” before the slayings.

Guzman and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Anthony McCloud, were arrested Thursday in Las Vegas after they allegedly stole one of the victims’ cars to flee. They are being held on $2-million bail each in Nevada awaiting extradition on three counts of murder.

The women — Trinity Clyde, 18; Wendy Lopez-Araiza, 46; and her daughter, Genesis Lopez-Araiza, 21 — were discovered dead Wednesday in the Hemet home. Wendy Lopez-Araiza’s husband came home from work Wednesday to find one of the victims covered in blood and called 911, Pust said at a news conference.


The chief said there was evidence of blunt force trauma and strangulation. There was no indication of a firearm being used in the deaths.

Pust said he did not know how long Guzman had lived at the home or how the killings unfolded.

It was not immediately clear whether Guzman and McCloud had attorneys who could speak on their behalf

Rodney Clyde told KNBC-TV Channel 4 that his daughter, Trinity, had planned to rent a room at the home on Rabbit Peak Way. The suspects allegedly stole Trinity Clyde’s vehicle to drive to Las Vegas.


“I just bought her paint yesterday,“ he said. “That was my baby. That was my kid.”

MSNBC sounds the alarm on Bloomberg’s ‘doctored’ debate video mocking 2020 Dems

A segment on MSNBC Friday slammed former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg over a video he shared this week that was clearly mocking his debate opponents. The video has been described as “deceptively edited.”

During Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Bloomberg was the target of several attacks, but the moment he touted his own business background had his opponents speechless.

“Maybe you want to talk about businesses. I think I’m the only one here who ever started a business, is that fair?” Bloomberg looked over at his opponents, none of whom responded.

A moment later, Bloomberg quipped, “OK,” and carried on with his remarks.


Bloomberg had some fun on Thursday at the expense of his Democratic rivals, sharing a clip of that exchange but overtly embellished the response from the other candidates on the debate stage, showing blank facial expressions from Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, over a lengthy 20 seconds with the sounds of crickets being heard throughout.

“Anyone?” Bloomberg captioned the tweet.

During a segment about Twitter’s latest crackdown in “disinformation,”  MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle slammed the Bloomberg campaign for sharing what she described as a “doctored” video.

“This isn’t just about rightwing conspiracies or something far to the left because just yesterday, Mike Bloomberg’s campaign played a doctored video from the debate,” Ruhle said.

Ruhle played a portion of the clip, which she claimed afterward to viewers “wasn’t true” and that the cricket noises were added for “dramatic effect.”

“The campaign has said it was tongue-in-cheek, but when somebody sends you that clip, that looks very good for the mayor and looks really bad for everyone else, and it’s not true,” Ruhle said.


NBC News reporter Ben Collins also pushed back on the Bloomberg campaign for the video, which is something Collins said Twitter said would “flag” with the rollout of its new attempt to prevent the spread of disinformation.

“There was about a second or two of silence, not 20 seconds of silence or whatever, that’s the sort of thing, without the crickets, people might take seriously,” Collins told Ruhle. “And that’s how disinformation sort of steamrolls and if nobody is going to stop it, it can change narratives. It can change the outcome of the election. We’ve been there before.”

MSNBC wasn’t the only mainstream media outlet to blast Bloomberg, as CNN also called out the satirical video.


“He’s making another mistake. His campaign [is] making another big one today and that is there’s a video that his campaign tweeted this morning, it’s gotten a million views — that didn’t happen,” CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash had said. “It is a deceptively edited video.”

CNN then aired the entire clip, which Bash reminded viewers “didn’t happen.”

“His campaign is saying, ‘C’mon, it was tongue-in-cheek,’ but in today’s day and age where we are so concerned about things that are doctored, deep fakes on the Internet,” Bash added.