Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jeff Bezo & The Washington Post

So the presidential general election cycle is almost upon us and here we go....

‘Not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave’: Bezos fires back at Donald Trump 

A story by The Washington Post.  

Are you thinking what I am thinking?  Jeff Bezos owns The WaPo. The WaPo is now doing a story on the owner of their paper saying that Donald Trump does not 'behave like a presidential candidate'.

There are two ways to go with this story.  Shall I focus on the WaPo doing a story quoting the owner who was, at the time of the quote, appearing at a WaPo sponsored event called Transformers where he was interviewed by the WaPo Executive Director Martin Baron at the WaPo headquarters.  What's wrong with that?

Or, should I take their bait and discuss whether The Donald is correct?  Nah...

Let's go with option #1:  

Where to start?  Oh yeah,  let me set the scene.  The reporter, Paul Farhi, is sent to cover an event called Transformers.  This event is held (conveniently) at his place of work, thus cutting the travel expenses, I suppose.  So there he is listening attentively and taking notes at the event held at his place of work when there appears his boss (actually, probably his bosses boss) to apparently lead a Q & A discussion at the Transformers event held at his place of work.  Then his boss, introduces the owner of the company he works for (his bosses, bosses, boss?) for the interview.  Can't you just feel the pressure on this reporter to cover this event Transformers held at his place of work.

So when it is all said and done poor Paul Farhi had to write a story about the owner of the company he works for being interviewed by his bosses boss.  He needs to play this straight done the line, right?

Let's look:

Here's a good one,in one paragraph the report writes:  
Bezos was responding to criticism leveled against him and The Post by Trump last week.
He followed this up with this: 

An an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Thursday, Trump accused Bezos of using The Post to protect himself from higher taxes. He presented no evidence for his assertion.[emphasis mine]
Oh, really? So poor Paul went on:
“Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing,” he said. “And 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.”
To prove The Donald wrong, poor Paul pulls this gut punch the The Donald:
The paper’s editorial board, which is separate from its newsroom, has editorialized in favor of taxing online retailers such as Amazon the same as bricks-and-mortar stores. The paper’s position hasn’t changed since Bezos bought the paper, said Fred Hiatt, the editorial-page editor.
Oh.  Well then that settles it, right?  Wait.  Where is the evidence for this assertion?  Maybe he was trying to back up this statement when poor Paul wrote this:
“As the individual who oversees The Washington Post’s news staff, I can say categorically that I have received no instructions from Jeff Bezos regarding our coverage of the presidential campaign — or, for that matter, any other subject,” Baron said. “The Post has a long tradition of publishing thorough examinations of the major-party nominees for president. The decision to write a book on Donald Trump came entirely from the newsroom.”[emphasis mine]
But, here's the head scratcher:
Trump’s latest criticism of Bezos was sparked by comments made by Post reporter Bob Woodward last week during a speech to a business group. Woodward said, accurately, that the paper had assigned some 20 reporters to produce a biography of Trump. He added that Bezos has urged the newspaper to produce multiple stories on the presidential candidates as part of its duty to inform voters about the next president.
He said, ‘Look, the job at The Washington Post has to be tell us everything about who the eventual nominee will be in both parties — 15-part, 16-part series, 20-part series, we want to look at every part of their lives, and we’re never going get the whole story, of course, but we can get the best attainable,” Woodward told the group.[emphasis mine]
So which is it Paul? Does Bezo instruct the newsroom, or doesn't he?