Amazon chief Jeff Bezos's purchase of the Washington Post has been met with a large amount of optimism within the paper. In recent days, though, a number of more critical takes on his upcoming stewardship have emerged.
Most have looked at what kind of businessman Bezos has been, and have questioned what his intent is for the Post.
The New Yorker's John Cassidy wrote on Tuesday that he wondered why, exactly, Bezos had bought the Post:
If Bezos’s motives are essentially philanthropic, why isn’t he purchasing the paper through his family foundation, which could probably afford it, especially if he kicked it some more of his estimated twenty-five billion dollars? At the moment, the family foundation, which is run by Bezos’s parents, Jackie and Mike, focusses on preschool and K-12 education. But there’s nothing to stop it from adding saving newspapers that educate the public to its list of aims. For years now, some knowledgeable media people have thought that the only long-term solution for America’s serious newspapers, which do costly, serious journalism, is to have their ultimate owners be charitable trusts, which is how the Guardian was structured until recently.
At the New Republic, Alec MacGillis said Bezos treated his workers badly and had damaged the fabric of society through Amazon:
More generally, Amazon has embodied, more than any other of the giants that rule our new landscape, the faster-cheaper-further mindset that scratches away daily at our communal fabric: Why bother running down to the store around the block if you can buy it with a click? No risk of running into someone on the way and actually having to talk to them, and hey, can you beat that price? No thought given to the externalities that make that price possible—the workers being violently shocked every time they pull a book off the warehouse shelf, or losing a chunk of their lunch break to go through the security checkpoint set up by their oh-so-trusting employer. They’re Somewhere Else, working for a company that is Out There, in the cloud.
MacGillis isn't the only one with concerns about Amazon's labor practices. Just last Thursday, Britain's Channel 4 News ran a lengthy exposé of one of Amazon's factories in England, where workers described conditions as "horrendous" and said they were monitored even when they went to the bathroom.
Left-wing media watchdog FAIR also raised the question of some of Bezos's ties to the CIA, and his treatment of WikiLeaks:
After the publication of the State Department cables, WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon's web hosting service AWS (Guardian, 12/1/10). So at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers were unable to access the WikiLeaks website. The decision came right after politicians like Senator Joe Lieberman called for action to retaliate against WikiLeaks. Amazon denied it had anything to do with politics. The company's statement stressed that the decision was theirs alone–WikiLeaks had violated the terms of service agreement, since "WikiLeaks doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content."