Bezos buys a big piece of power


An old cowboy aphorism says: “Speak the truth. But ride a fast horse.”

From the 1970s into the 1990s, there was a proud truth-telling newspaper of national importance. At the Washington Post, fiery editors hired strong investigative diggers to expose corporate and political corruption, telling the public who was doing what to whom… and why.

From consumer ripoffs to the Watergate scandal that consumed Dick Nixon’s presidency, the Post practiced Journalism with a capital J.

But then it devolved into just another corporate media property, focusing more on cutting newsroom costs than on its watchdog role. Finally, the Post plunged all the way down the corporate rabbit hole by selling out — body and soul — to the avatar of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

Why would the master of digital marketing metrics want a newspaper? It doesn’t square at all with his matrix of other businesses. Was it just a lark?

Get real — Bezos doesn’t do larks. Indeed, the Post is not just any newspaper. It’s the paper at the epicenter of governmental decision-making, and it’s read first thing in the morning by practically every congress critter, agency head, lobbyist and others involved in Washington doings. And Amazon’s doings are increasingly tied to the Capitol City — including possible antitrust probes of its monopoly practices, its secret push to get a $600 million contract to build the CIA’s cloud, its scandalous laundering of much of its global income through the tax-dodger’s paradise of Luxembourg, and its infamous exploitation of low-wage warehouse workers.

And now, Mr. Amazon can “speak” through the Post every single day with every key policymaker, shaping the debate on everything that affects his grandiose ambition. Bezos wasn’t buying a newspaper — he bought a big piece of power.


This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.