In a recent Op-Ed, Seattle native Timothy Egan wrote that President Trump has “declared war on Amazon, the nation’s second most valuable company.” He pointed out the irony of going after a company that is creating more jobs than all but a handful of American states. And of course, almost every major city in the U.S. has been competing to land the second headquarters of this global online retailer and the 50,000 high-paying positions it promises to create.
Egan notes that Amazon is perhaps “the biggest job engine in the United States, and the president is using the power of his office to hurt it.” Moreover, he’s doing this at the same time he’s moved to support Chinese jobs at the telecom giant ZTE. “Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump tweeted.
Amazon is no saint, certainly, with low wages at some warehouses and a business strategy that has crippled many small retailers. And as recent privacy breaches reminded us, the major tech companies could use some additional regulation to reign in their intrusions into our personal lives.
But Egan argues that Trump isn’t concerned in the least about those issues. He says everything is filtered through a love-me, hate-me prism. Supported are rewarded and dissidents are crushed. Is his analysis fair?
One thing seems clear: Trump has no fondness for Jeff Bezos, the founder and chairman of Amazon. Egan thinks Trump may resent him for his success; Bezos transformed a mailbox bookseller into the world’s largest online retailer. There are significantly more Amazon Prime members in the U.S. than people who voted for Trump. As a businessman, Trump experienced multiple bankruptcies, faced lawsuits for his embattled “university,” and even ran a casino into the ground.
But the more likely reason Trump has it out of Bezos is that he owns The Washington Post, which has covered the president in a highly critical manner. Since the Post is protected by the First Amendment, instead of going after the newspaper, Trump has directly targeted its owner—even though Bezos has nothing to do with the news operation, as Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Post has said.
Trump reportedly pushed the postmaster general, Megan Brennan, to double the rates that the Postal Service charges Amazon for shipping—even though those rates are bound by contract and are beneficial to the struggling agency. Some have even made the argument that if it weren’t for Amazon, the Postal Service would now be out of business.
A newspaper more to Trump’s liking is The National Enquirer, whose publisher, David Pecker, is a die-hard Trump supporter and has been vigilant in protecting the president from the embarrassment of his personal behavior.
When Trump was just a no-class developer who used his private fixers to go after his enemies and lied five ways before breakfast, it was of no consequence to the rest of us. No more.
“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a path to relinquishing our freedom.”