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Washington Post Finds Itself in the Middle of the Jeff Bezos Story

Jeff Bezos says proudly owning The Washington Post is a “complexifier” for him. The newspaper may just say the similar about him.

The paper has flourished beneath Mr. Bezos’ possession. Since he purchased the newspaper in 2013 for $250 million, The Post has added over 200 folks to its newsroom, which now numbers 900 reporters, and gained plaudits and awards for its protection of, amongst different topics, the Trump management. The paper has greater than 1.five million virtual subscribers, and the industry has been winning for the previous 3 years.

But the newsroom entered tough editorial terrain closing week when it changed into an element in an obvious extortion try towards Mr. Bezos, whilst additionally having to independently quilt the occasions round its proprietor.

The drama featured a litany of vintage tabloid parts that will problem any newsroom — a marriage-busting affair documented via The National Enquirer, Hollywood brokers with ties to political figures, secret rendezvous at high-end lodges and sexting — let on my own one whose proprietor sits at the middle of the controversy.

It was once additionally a stark reminder that Mr. Bezos is an excessively public determine of nice wealth and affect. He is the international’s richest individual via dint of his command of Amazon, an organization this is achieving additional and additional into the lives of on a regular basis folks, whether or not via its e-commerce industry, its leisure homes or its a large number of warehouses round the nation that make use of masses of 1000’s.

His non-public venture, Blue Origin, describes its challenge as “building a road to space so our children can build the future.”

With his weblog publish detailing his extortion allegations closing week, Mr. Bezos has now additionally transform a distinguished commentator on the First Amendment. He mentioned he was once preventing again towards alleged ways that haven’t any industry in journalism, whilst The Enquirer claims he’s simply seeking to muzzle a e-newsletter as a result of its protection embarrassed him.

The editorial web page of The Post obviously aspects with its proprietor. On Friday, the day after Mr. Bezos printed his weblog publish, the paper printed an article praising him for exposing an “insidious model of intimidation and corruption masquerading as journalism.”

The general scenario will “test both Marty Baron and Jeff Bezos,” Kyle Pope, the editor and writer of The Columbia Journalism Review, mentioned in an e-mail, regarding The Post’s government editor. Mr. Bezos will get “good marks so far,” Mr. Pope mentioned, however “the truth is that the rules of journalism are not baked into his bones; it’s something he’s going to have to learn, at a very stressful and trying time.”

Mr. Bezos didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Mr. Baron declined to be interviewed however introduced a remark.

“Jeff has never gotten involved in our reporting or our final stories,” he mentioned. “People surmise that it must be difficult to cover Jeff and Amazon. But we’ve gone five and a half years with his ownership, and he hasn’t once intervened in any way.”

The conflict between Mr. Bezos and The Enquirer started closing month when the tabloid printed an exposé of his extramarital affair with the tv persona Lauren Sanchez. Mr. Bezos fought again in his remarkably revealing weblog publish on Medium, the on-line open platform. He accused David J. Pecker, the chairman of The Enquirer’s mum or dad corporate, American Media Inc., of threatening via intermediaries to submit graphic images of Mr. Bezos if he didn’t publicly announce that The Enquirer’s reporting on his affair was once no longer politically motivated.

The Post has historically fascinated about the country’s capital, with no longer as many assets dedicated to industry protection. That has began to switch. The Post had prior to now mentioned it will just about double the quantity of reporters dedicated to masking Silicon Valley to 25, together with a reporter in Seattle who will center of attention on Amazon.

It additionally aggressively adopted up on the revelation about Mr. Bezos’ non-public existence.

The Post printed a long article on Feb. five about The Enquirer’s protection of Mr. Bezos’ affair. It quoted Gavin de Becker, his longtime safety leader, as pronouncing the leak of proof of Mr. Bezos’ infidelity to The Enquirer was once “politically motivated,” designed to embarrass Mr. Bezos as a result of he owns The Post. Mr. de Becker added that the effort may just additionally contain figures from President Trump’s marketing campaign.

Emails from American Media that Mr. Bezos incorporated in his weblog publish referred to the Post article and demanded that he — and the newspaper — chorus from any statements or tips that politics performed any phase in its protection of his affair with Ms. Sanchez.

Like different newspapers, together with The New York Times, The Post ran front-page articles on Mr. Bezos and American Media on Friday and Saturday. Those weren’t the simplest articles about his pursuits. The paper additionally printed a record about Amazon’s doubtlessly pulling out of its settlement to construct a headquarters in New York City, in addition to one a few lawsuit filed towards Amazon via the director Woody Allen, who mentioned its streaming carrier had improperly subsidized out of a four-movie maintain him.

“I think they’ve finally woken up to the fact that their owner is a huge story,” mentioned Mr. Pope, who has criticized the paper’s previous protection of Amazon as anemic. With the battle between Mr. Bezos and American Media, he mentioned, “they’ve moved into an appropriately higher gear.”

Mr. Baron mentioned the paper had no longer modified its way to its protection of Mr. Bezos or his industry pursuits. Mr. Baron has mentioned that he talks with Mr. Bezos about “strategy” each two weeks or so, however that the discussions don’t contact on the paper’s protection. Mr. Bezos owns The Post one by one from Amazon.

“Because I know full well that he won’t interfere, it’s not really difficult to cover him and Amazon at all,” Mr. Baron mentioned in his remark. “In all the years of his ownership, there hasn’t been one report of his exerting influence, explicitly or implicitly, on our coverage.”

Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the writer and leader government of The Post, echoed the ones sentiments in a remark, and mentioned Mr. Bezos had performed no phase in the editorial that praised his weblog publish.

“Jeff has always made it clear that he expects The Washington Post will act with complete independence, both in our news coverage and editorials, and treat him and his companies just as we would anyone else,” Mr. Ryan wrote. “We have never wavered from that position.”

Donald Graham, whose circle of relatives had owned The Post for nearly 80 years sooner than he bought it to Mr. Bezos, mentioned he was once “delighted” via the editorial. “I consider each phrase of it,” he mentioned in an e-mail.

He added, “Had they no longer editorialized, most likely The Times can be doing a work about the absence of such an article and what did that imply?”

Bill Grueskin, a Columbia University journalism professor and a former editor at The Wall Street Journal, mentioned it will have to were made clearer to readers that Mr. Bezos had not anything to do with the editorial.

“Readers deserve to know whether Bezos knew about the editorial in advance, or in any way contributed to discussions that led to it,” he mentioned.

To display that the newspaper stays unbiased of its proprietor, The Post pointed to every other editorial, from early closing yr. That editorial warned that towns will have to “proceed with caution, with their eyes at least as wide open as their wallets,” when bidding to be a location for Amazon’s 2nd headquarters.

That has now transform a big place of origin tale. Amazon lately introduced that it will construct a headquarters in close by Arlington, Va., that means it’ll be one of the biggest employers in the area.

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