Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post and founder of Amazon.com, is defending his newspaper’s ongoing investigations of Donald Trump.
He also brushed away the GOP leader’s charge that he’s using his newspaper to protect his California-based business empire from potential antitrust charges.
“Some people would say this [Trump criticism] is very tactical, to immunize [him] against the media,” Bezos told an audience at an event at The Washington Post.
Trump’s prediction that Amazon would face antitrust problems if he is elected president is “not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave,” Bezos said. Trump’s statement “erodes our free speech norms,” he said.
“I’m very, very comfortable with all of Amazon’s approaches and behaviors, [such as] the way we pay taxes,” he said in the videotaped event.
The newspaper will continued to cover leading politicians, Bezos said.
The citizens of this country make decisions and they need information to make those decisions …We want a society where any of us, any individual or institution, if they choose to, can scrutinize, examine and criticize an elected official, especially a candidate for the highest office in the most powerful country on Earth. It’s critical. What would be shocking and disturbing is if you weren’t doing that.
However, although Bezos’ deputies at The Washington Post have assembled a 20-person team to investigate Trump, there’s little evidence that the Post is allocating major resources to investigate Hillary Clinton’s various activities, such as her foreign policy record, her unprotected email network and her ties to the Clinton Foundation and its donors.
For example, Bob Woodward, the newspaper’s most famous journalist, dismissed concerns about Clinton’s email network. Woodward told an audience last week that he sees little evidence that Hillary Clinton recklessly handled classified information. “I don’t think anyone feels that there was intent on her part to distribute classified information in a way that was illegal or jeopardized security,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner. “To do this, quite frankly, doesn’t make sense,” Woodward said.
Also, Bezos has said he bought the Washington Post because it gives him a greater role in politics. “With the Post, he’s taken a seat at the civic-leadership table,” says an admiring April 2016 profile in Fortune.
“I would not have bought the Washington Post if it had been a financially upside-down salty-snack-food company,” he says. Bezos describes being 10 years old, sprawled on the floor of his grandfather’s house, watching the Watergate hearings. The Post, of course, achieved its maximum renown covering that political scandal. “We need institutions that have the resources and the training and the skill, expertise, to find things,” Bezos says. “It’s pretty important who we elect as President, all those things, and we need to examine those people, try to understand them better.”
Trump has slammed the newspaper, and has repeatedly suggested that Bezos’ business interests shape the the paper’s coverage.
“Every hour, we’re getting calls from reporters from The Washington Post asking ridiculous questions, and I will tell you, this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon,” Trump told Sean Hannity May 12.
Amazon is “getting away with murder, tax-wise,” Trump said, citing the reality that online retailers pay lower sales-taxes than brick-and-mortar retailers, or also hotels — including Trump’s hotels. “He’s using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed,” Trump said.
Trump also argued that Amazon has such a dominant role in the online retail market that it could be charged with violating antitrust laws.
Trump argued that Bezos is using The Washington Post to protect his Amazon business. “Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing … what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing, and he’s using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people, and I’ll tell you what, we can’t let him get away with it.”