The former executive editor of The New York Times says President Donald Trump's escalating feud with Amazon is really about the success of the Washington Post, which are both owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos and the latter of which has been very aggressive in its coverage of the White House.
"Amazon is no angel, but Trump's urge to punish it is for all the wrong reasons, triggered by his churlishness over the Post's coverage of him and his administration," Abramson writes in Thursday's The Guardian.
"Of all of Trump's attacks on Bezos, the most poisonous lie is that he uses the Post to lobby for Amazon. When Bezos bought the paper [from the Graham family], he did so with personal funds, to keep the newspaper's interests and mission completely separate from Amazon's.
"The Grahams would not have found him a fit owner if they thought Bezos wanted to use the Post to wield influence."
Trump took another swing at the "fake news Washington Post" on Thursday, condemning the newspaper's "phony headlines" regarding the ongoing trade tit-for-tat with China and slamming it as "chief lobbyist" for Amazon.
Trump was referring to a story in the Post, the headline of which was changed after it was first published. The story later bore the headline: "Trump pushes back on fears of a trade war with China."
Trump has been vocal in his opposition of Amazon's use of the U.S. Postal Service, claiming it is losing money delivering Amazon packages. He also has accused the company of not paying enough taxes and putting small retailers out of business, adding to investors' worries that the company could be subject to more regulation.
But the president also offered no evidence to back up his criticisms and did not suggest any actions he would take.
In her column, Abramson said that just as publisher Katharine Graham "risked financial ruin" by standing up to President Richard Nixon, who was eventually toppled by The Post's Watergate coverage, "Bezos, too, has much at risk …
"The president has very real legal, regulatory and spending tools at his disposal to retaliate against Bezos and Amazon for the Post's unflinching coverage."
The Post was bought by Bezos for $250 million in 2013. It has reported on many White House scandals since Trump won the 2016 election.
Among them have been how Trump slammed protections for immigrants from "s**thole" countries during a meeting about a bipartisan immigration deal and a woman's claim that Trump kissed her inside Trump Tower 12 years ago.
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