Amazon VP Jay Carney: New York Times’ Investigation Failed ‘Journalism 101’

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP

(Ferenstein Wire) — is fighting back against the New York Times. The retail giant claims that a wildly popular investigation the paper published back in August about the company’s grueling work environment violated “Journalism 101.”

The Times piece painted Amazon as a corporate behemoth that exploits high-skilled workers and leaves its employees literally “crying” at their desks from the stress. The story quickly went viral and sparked discussion about America’s workaholic culture, especially among high-skilled workers. Amazon became ground zero for everything that is wrong with America’s work/life balance.

But former White House spokesperson and current public relations lead, Jay Carney, just published a blistering response to the story on Medium. In response to the piece’s infamous quote by an employee named Bo Olson who said, “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” Carney writes:

Here’s what the story didn’t tell you about Mr. Olson: his brief tenure at Amazon ended after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted it and resigned immediately.

Carney suggests the Times leveraged disreputable sources in order to paint what he implies was an agenda by the two reporters to sell the story. Carney writes, “We were in regular communication with [the piece’s author] Ms. Kantor from February through the publication date in mid-August. And yet somehow she never found the time, or inclination, to ask us about the credibility of a named source whose vivid quote would serve as a lynchpin for the entire piece.”

Amazon says that the Times refused to work with them on a rebuttal, so they turned to Medium in response. The New York Times responded with their own Medium piece here, and Amazon has responded to the response.

My take is that the Times didn’t reveal anything that wasn’t already public information. There are workplace review sites where employees regularly praise and vent about their employers. Work/life balance is an issue at Amazon, but many of the employees who complain about this also rate the company very highly.

So, I get the sense that the story wasn’t the full picture. Readers can check out the full (blistering) response here.

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