By:Edward Welsch | February 13, 2020
He's 5'5", or I'll eat my hat.
President Donald Trump recently mocked Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg as “a 5’4” mass of dead energy.” Immediately, the mainstream press and tech companies were out playing defense for the diminutive billionaire founder of Bloomberg LP and former mayor of New York City. A National Public Radio host in a blasé tone rebuffed this as another one of the President’s lies, stating that Bloomberg was in reality 5’8”. Presumably the host relied on Google for her fact checking, because that’s the height that the tech giant lists.
As a former Bloomberg News employee, I heard this and shook my head in disbelief. Google is lying. I’ve seen the man in person, and he’s strikingly short. My colleagues and I estimated him at 5’5”. Reviewing morning news reports, I note that Google isn’t the only one that inflates Bloomberg’s height. The Daily Caller and NBC News give him 5’7”, the Washington Free Beacon 5’6”. Apparently Bloomberg himself has said 5’7”, but then he’s also claimed to be 5’10”, which is taller than I am and contrary to my memory of having to tilt my head downward when I stood near him on one occasion several years ago.
Why does Bloomberg’s height matter? Cast aside the observation that height seems to be an advantage for leaders, and that if elected, Bloomberg would be the second-shortest president in American history after James Madison. Many short men have been great leaders—Napoleon being the greatest example—so his height isn’t important in itself.
No, it matters because it’s another example of both the candidate and the media lying to our faces about a basic, unquestionable fact of reality. As Christ said in the book of Luke, "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater."
But maybe you don’t trust my height estimate—perhaps I’m the one who has gotten it wrong. Above is a 2011 picture of then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy standing next to Bloomberg in New York, in front of the Statue of Liberty. Sarkozy is 5’5”.
Edward Welsch is the executive editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and formerly a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.
[Image via AP Photo/Jason DeCrow]