Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post is uniting two ideologically opposed politicians frustrated with the newspaper’s media coverage of them.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders suggested on Monday that The Post runs negative articles about him because he is critical of the paper’s owner.
“Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?” Sanders said at a campaign event in New Hampshire, according to The Huffington Post and other coverage. “See, I talk about that all of the time. And then I wonder why The Washington Post … doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection.”
Sanders reportedly reiterated the claim later that day at a separate event. It’s a frequent refrain of President Donald Trump, who has accused The Washington Post as operating as a lobbying arm for Amazon dozens of times.
Marty Baron, The Washington Post’s executive editor, rejected the claim that Bezos influences his newsroom in a statement.
“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” he said. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”
It’s not unusual for politicians to criticize what they see as unfavorable media coverage. But it’s less common for elected officials to accuse a publication of pushing the agenda of an executive or corporation.
Amazon is a particular target of Sanders, who has criticized the company for its scant federal tax bill and working conditions in its warehouses. His advocacy on the latter issue led Amazon to raise its minimum wage for all workers to $15 per hour.
Sanders’ frustration with the media dates back to his 2016 campaign, in which he claimed infrequent coverage made it more difficult for him to compete with Hilary Clinton. A Harvard University study found Sanders’ campaign was “largely ignored in the early months but, as it began to get coverage, it was overwhelmingly positive in tone.”