On Thursday, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump was enjoying the company of one of his favorite media whores, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, when the billionaire started attacking the Washington Post and Amazon.
Hannity asked Trump about a report which claims that the Post is assigning 2o journalists to dig into different aspects of his life, and whether or not the billionaire has prepared himself for the intense scrutiny that goes along with running a general election presidential campaign.
Here’s Trump’s reply:
Yeah — it’s interesting that you say that, because every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from the Washington Post asking ridiculous questions and I will tell you, this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder tax-wise. He’s using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed.
He’s getting absolutely away, he’s worried about me and I think he said that to somebody, it was in some article where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much, Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing and what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing and he’s using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people and I’ll tell you what, we can let him get away with it.
So he’s got about 20-25. I just heard, they’re taking these really bad stories, I mean they’re wrong, I wouldn’t even say bad, they’re wrong and in many cases they have no proper information and they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together and they’re going to do a book and the book is going to be all false stuff up because the stories are so wrong and the reporters, I mean one after another.
So what they’re doing is — he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop antitrust; which he thinks I believe he’s antitrust, another word’s what he’s got it’s a monopoly and he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So it’s one of those things but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what — what he’s doing’s wrong and the people are …. the whole system is rigged, you see a case like that, the whole system is rigged — whether it’s Hillary or whether it’s Bezos. He’s using the Washington Post which is peanuts, he’s using that for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust.
Trump accused Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Brazos, of using the Washington Post as his personal attack dog to go after him. The billionaire believes he’s a target because of a conspiracy in which he claims Amazon somehow uses the Washington Post to help avoid paying taxes and attack political enemies such as himself.
The gold-haired demagogue then threatened to get his revenge on the online retailer once he’s elected president.
Here are the facts.
Amazon’s CEO is the owner of the Washington Post.
Trump does tell the truth when he says that Bezos owns the Washington Post and that he bought the company for a relatively small amount.
However, Trump’s claim that Bezos is using the Post to gain political influence falls shorter than if he tried to jump the Grand Canyon on a tricycle. Bezos did not replace the paper’s head editor, Martin Baron, nor did he get rid of the editorial page editor or any top columnists.
And there’s no evidence that the paper hardened its coverage of Trump.
Trump’s claim about Amazon’s tax lobbying is ass backwards
Trump’s claim that Amazon is trying to gain political influence through the newspaper to keep from paying taxes is a myth. While it’s true that Amazon had a huge advantage years ago, when internet commerce was relatively new, Amazon did not pay sales taxes for years, unlike brick and mortar companies. This loophole gave them a huge advantage in the retail market.
However, many of the larger states started passing legislation forcing online retailers, like Amazon, to collect sales taxes. Now 25 states covering 77 percent of the U.S. population (and possibly a higher share of the retail sales) forces Amazon to pay sales tax. Only three states have no sales tax.
And Trump’s claim that Amazon lobbies to pay less in taxes is totally backwards. The retail giant is urging Congress to pass a law that would make it easier for more internet retailers to pay taxes.
Trump is threatening Amazon to scare the media.
Trump dances dangerously close to accusing Amazon of somehow breaking anti-trust laws. He believes that Bezos will pressure the Post to soften its coverage about him, thereby creating a ripple effect throughout the media.
A paranoid megalomaniac like Trump can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that since he’s in a position to become the next president, the media’s scrutiny will naturally intensify as more people will demand more information about him.
The billionaire probably doesn’t mind the extra scrutiny so much as he dislikes the negative facts about his past that reporters are bound to reveal due to said examination.
If the Post reported that Trump, at the age of 10, saved dozens of babies from a burning building with a broken leg, he’d probably not directly say it was true, but he’d also most likely find a way not to deny it. Then again, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about, of course, he would say it was true.
Trump loves media sycophants like the ones at Fox News, who find every possible way to placate his sensitive bubble ego. But he doesn’t care so much for journalist reporting facts that don’t benefit him.
The dangers of electing a vindictive president.
Libertarian economist, Tyler Cowen, wrote a fascinating article in March titled The Regulatory State and the Important of a Non-vindictive President, in which he stated:
I hope we always will have non-vindictive Presidents in this country. One reason is because the regulatory branch reports to the Executive. And if you own a large company, it is virtually impossible to be in accordance with all of the regulations all of the time. If there were a President who wished to pursue vendettas, the regulatory state would be the most direct and simplest way for him or her to do so. The usual presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” does not hold in many regulatory matters, nor are there always the usual protections of due process.
Cowen added that he “wonder[ed] if this is one reason why some of the leaders in the Republican Party have been somewhat reluctant to challenge Donald Trump.”
So the short answer to Hannity’s question is: No.