Trump, Amazon and the Washington Post: A Love(less) Triangle

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has reduced the responsibilities or ousted altogether several former star players on Capitol Hill. From Gary Cohn to Jared Kushner, the list of names of the people he’s got an axe to grind with continues to grow by the hour. One new moniker to add? Jeff Bezos.

Worth a whopping $120.1 billion, Bezos owns both Amazon and the Washington Post. He’s a successful businessman with tons of wealth at his disposal, so he and Trump should have enough in common to get along famously, right? Unfortunately, it’s Bezos’ very position that’s landing him in Trump’s rotating hot seat this week. His beef with Bezos centers on his notion that Amazon receives billions of dollars in subsidies from the U.S. Post Office, yet found a loophole to avoid paying sales tax on that fortune. On April 2, Trump tweeted (an alliteration we’ve all come to dread) that the Post Office is losing a fortune and that policies will soon be changed. This tweet comes on the heels of another one posted on March 29 that called the Postal System Amazon’s “Delivery Boy.”

Immediately after the April 2 tweet, Amazon’s stock value dropped 5%, In all, since Trump began tweeting about Amazon, Bezos’ worth has dropped a staggering $16 billion.

Those figures are only adding fuel to Trump’s fire, and sources inside the White House say he’s now consumed with launching a Twitter attack against Bezos and his empire as a whole, which he also says is forcing retailers across the country to close their doors. One way he thinks the Post Office can fire back? By upping the price that Amazon has to pay for shipping. Yet, this comes on the heels of a conversation with Gary Cohn, in which Cohn advised Trump that finding a level playing ground is key in this scenario, as the Post Office ultimately benefits from the boost in mail volume that Amazon provides.

With Cohn out, Trump is free to resume his efforts against Bezos and Amazon, driven by the notion that shipping costs are the crux of the matter. He’s also considering nixing the deal that Amazon is about to strike with the Pentagon to begin offering cloud computing services.

Let’s take a step back here and investigate another issue that might be truly at the center of this new debate. Yet, Amazon is taking a hefty chunk of the Postal Service’s mail holdings and skirting the financial responsibility that comes with that position. Still, it’s important to remember that Amazon isn’t Bezos’ only interest. He also owns and reinvented the Washington Post, a periodical that, while revered across the country, is no better than the doormat if you ask Trump.

I believe his issue has less to do with evening the retail industry playing field and more about bringing defamation to the Post and the rest of the credible and long-standing journalism outlets that Trump designates as “fake news.” Yet, he’d be wise to keep at least one media mogul on his side. In much the same way that buyers today are so enamored with temporary, faux and removable consumer goods, Trump appears to be in the same category. He’s consumed with flash-in-the-pan, quick-fix solution to patch over his deeply-rooted insecurities that force him to spit fire at every outlet that dares contradict him. It’s a short-lived band-aid slapped over a gaping wound that refuses to be abated. He’d be wiser to rip out the old and work slowly and intentionally to build the new again rather than sling mud and 140 characters at anyone and everyone whose beliefs differ from his.

As an avid Amazon Primer, and a reader of the Post, the idea that two of my most frequented resources may be undergoing a transformation over the next few years is more than a little concerning. With so much crisis and conflict going on around the world, I can’t help but wonder about all the beneficial changes that could come about if our president put as much energy and effort into combating those global woes as he does about claiming victory over a personal vendetta he’s been stoking for years. Change the policies, crack down on regulations, but just don’t mess with my two-day free shipping, please. At a time when things in this country seem so alarmingly unstable, that’s one beautiful certainty I can trust and rely on.

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Courtney Myers is a North Carolina-based freelance writer, political commentator, and work-from-home mother of two.

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April 20, 2018
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