Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO and the new owner of the Washington Post, maintains a $600 million contract with the CIA related to Amazon’s Cloud data storage system. Would Bezos’s potentially conflicting interests limit the Washington Post ability or willingness to publish negative news involving the CIA?
As context, Solomon notes that, “Even for a multi-billionaire like Bezos, a $600 million contract is a big deal. That’s more than twice as much as Bezos paid to buy the Post four months ago.”
Journalism scholar Robert W. McChesney points out, “Citizens need to know about this conflict of interest in the columns of the Post itself.” In a statement released by the Institute for Public Accuracy, McChesney added: “If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation—say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government—the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine.”
“What emerges now is what, in intelligence parlance, is called an ‘agent of influence’ owning the Post – with a huge financial interest in playing nice with the CIA,” said former CIA official Ray McGovern. “In other words, two main players nourishing the national security state in undisguised collaboration.”
Amazon, Solomon reports, “has a bad history of currying favor with the U.S. government’s ‘national security’ establishment.” After WikiLeaks published secret State Department cables, the media watch group FAIR reported that “WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon’s webhosting service AWS.” As a result, at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers using Amazon webhosting were unable to access the WikiLeaks website.
As the majority owner of Amazon, Bezos has a financial stake in maintaining good relations with the CIA—and this sends a clear message to even the hardest-nosed journalist that making the CIA look bad might be a risky career move.
Norman Solomon, “The CIA and the Washington Post,” CounterPunch, December 18, 2014, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/18/the-cia-and-the-washington-post/.
Peter Hart, “Amazon, WikiLeaks, the Washington Post and the CIA,” FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) Blog, August 6, 2013, http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/08/06/amazon-wilkileaks-the-washington-post-and-the-cia/.
Student Researcher: Michael Brannon (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Matthew Paolucci Callahan (Sonoma State University)