1. Wash Post reporters: Get a Bezos comment
These sentences in last week’s Times profile of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos beg for a follow-up from the house the Grahams built:
“Every story you ever see about Amazon, it has that sentence: ‘An Amazon spokesman declined to comment,’” Mr. Marcus said.
Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.
Over the years, in reading stories about Amazon I’ve noticed the same pattern of Amazon simply refusing to comment no matter what the story was about. And, although Amazon’s website lists a phone number for a public relations office, it lists no names of anyone specific to call, nor do its press releases list names for reporters to call for follow-up. Amazon’s resolute refusal to answer press questions and the paradox of Bezos now owning a business whose employees are paid to ask them is captured nicely in this column by Jack Shafer.
The first time Bezos shows up in the Washington Post building I hope a reporter will ask him about this and about how reporters at places like the Post are supposed to present complete, fair stories if a company as influential as Amazon is — in areas ranging from books, to employment conditions, to the retail economy, to sales taxes, to international trade, to antitrust law — won’t answer any questions. Let’s hope we get more than a “No comment.”
2. Unlikely lobbyists for Egyptian aid?
This smart New York Times report last week by Eric Schmitt points out that although the $1.3 billion in annual military aid the United States gives Egypt pales against the amounts offered to Egypt’s military rulers by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, the U.S. maintains outsized leverage because its aid includes authorizing American arms makers to supply their hardware and software to Egypt. According to Schmitt, Egyptian military chieftains are “enamored of Apache attack helicopters, M1A1 battle tanks and F-16 fighter jets.”