Just the Facts

President Trump's Issues with Amazon - WaPo

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April 7, 2018 | Blog

President Trump has raised several concerns with Amazon’s business practices. In recent days, the president tweeted about those concerns which include an assertion that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, uses the newspaper to lobby for Amazon. 

Of the president’s three part criticism of Amazon, it is this last accusation that has drawn the most criticism. Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million. He purchased the famed newspaper with his personal money, not Amazon funds. Of course, Bezos’ personal fortune comes from his hugely successful company, Amazon. 

Bezos has been intentional about taking a hands off approach to The Washington Post. The newspaper’s executive editor, Martin Baron, is clear saying “There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon. Not one penny.” Baron continued to dispute the notion that The Washington Post is a tool used by Bezos to lobby for Amazon saying of Bezos, “I can’t say more emphatically he’s never suggested a story to anybody here, he’s never critiqued a story, he’s never suppressed a story.” Baron also said of Bezos, “He doesn’t get involved. I’ve never heard from him on any story that we’ve written about Amazon, and we’ve had any number of them that are critical.” 

This is hardly the first time a person who has built a successful business has purchased a news outlet. Today, Warren Buffet owns 28 regional newspapers and Red Sox owner John Henry owns The Boston Globe.  

According to Baron, Bezos holds conference calls every other week to go over business strategy, but has no involvement in news coverage, trusting day-to-day operation to people like Martin Baron. While those efforts are laudable and serve to minimize conflicts of interest, the realty still exists that The Washington Post is linked to Amazon in so far as Amazon’s success allowed Bezos the opportunity to purchase the newspaper. 

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