The presumptive nominee of the Republican party claims that the reason Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, bought the Post is 'for power, so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed.'
The Donald has often attacked the media during campaign rallies, knowing that his supporters love it. Reporters early in the year said they felt uncomfortable at the candidate’s rallies, and in February one was choked by a member of the Secret Service, and a few weeks later another was arrested for allegedly resisting arrest (though video showed the opposite, and no charges were filed).
Trump also said in March that, if elected, he would change libel laws in order to give himself greater power to sue journalists.
But lately things have calmed down – that is until Thursday when Trump went after The Washington Post and its owner Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accusing Bezos of buying the paper for the power it can give him.
Trump said that his campaign is being inundated with calls from reporters “asking ridiculous questions” and then pointed out that “this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos who controls Amazon.”
“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 on Sean Hannity’s show. “He’s worried about me and I think he said that to somebody, it was in some article where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much. Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing 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.”
While some liberal websites such as Vox have dismissed Trump’s theory that Bezos acquired the Post for the power it gives him, the reality is that it has become common in recent years for buyers of newspaper to be motivated precisely for that reason. In San Diego, real estate developer Doug Manchester acquired the Union-Tribune in hopes that it would deliver political results – though, in the end, the move may have backfired.
“The same day hotel magnate Doug Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune for $110 million three and a half years ago, his partner John Lynch said the paper was going to call out “obstructionists” against the duo’s dream of building a new stadium for the Chargers,” Voice of San Diego said in reviewing his tenure as the paper’s owner.
“This was only the first of many pronouncements the Manchester-Lynch tandem made in the brief time they owned San Diego’s largest media company. Their dream of a new Chargers stadium is one of many to have floundered.”
In the end, Manchester sold the paper to Tribune Publishing, owner of the Los Angeles Times.
Recently, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review Journal, vastly overpaying for the property, in clear effort to boost his political influence.
Today’s newspaper owner generally finds their newspapers carry less weight than they once did. But Washington DC is an insular place, and the Post holds a special status in the nation’s capitol.
The paper has, over the course of the primary season, run an incredible number of opinion columns critical of the Republican candidate – a number that would be hard for any campaign to ignore. Today, reporter Philip Bump again looked at the issue of Trump’s taxes – Trump said he will be ignoring tradition and not release his tax returns before the November election.
But is those opinion columns that has to be driving Trump to lash out. Besides Bump’s story, all six opinion pieces featured on the home page of today’s Post concern Trump, including an editorial that attacks the candidate for his position on releasing his taxes:
His boasting ought to be tested against hard information about how his companies performed, how they were managed and governed, how shareholders and bondholders were treated, how Mr. Trump was compensated, how he managed his tax burden and to what extent he has been a philanthropist. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s companies have been largely private in recent years, shielding his accounts from public scrutiny. He did file a 92-page personal financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission that was accompanied by a news release claiming Mr. Trump’s net worth is “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” The capital letters are his. Mr. Trump claimed in the news release that his income for 2014 was $362 million, although Fortune magazine, scrutinizing it, reported that that figure is actually his revenue not his income, which would factor in expenses, and the magazine mused, “You would think that a successful businessman would know the difference between revenue and income.”
But it would be wrong to say that this battle has heated up recently. In fact, Trump’s attack on the Post goes back to late last year when he tweeted his first attack. At the time, Trump was just starting to regularly attack the media at campaign events.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
The Post is not the only newspaper Trump has had a run-in with. He has said that The New York Times is a poorly run operation which he doubts will be in business in a few years.
He has even more reason to be upset with the Times today, economist/columnist Paul Krugman goes after Trump on the tx issue, too:
“Mr. Trump’s excuse, that he can’t release his returns while they’re being audited, is an obvious lie. On the contrary, the fact that he’s being audited (or at least that he says he’s being audited) should make it easier for him to go public — after all, he needn’t fear triggering an audit!” Krugman writes.
Krugman, as others have, speculates that the real reason Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns is that they will show that the businessman is far less successful, and far less wealthy than he has claimed during the primary season. We may never know if he is right about that.