The WaPo Changes Hands

Aug 5 2013 @ 8:17pm

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Fallows hopes for the best:

The money required to run a news organization is, for this era’s new wealthy, relatively modest. I haven’t stopped to do the comparisons, but I bet that the investment Jeff Bezos is making (and will need to increase, if he wants to revive the paper) is modest compared with what a previous era’s Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Fords decided to put into their universities and foundations. So let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence.

Ezra Klein sizes up his new boss:

The case against Jeff Bezos — if you’re a reader of The Post — is that Bezos owns one of the largest and most influential companies in America.

Amazon’s political interests extend across everything from state sales taxes to the minimum wage to trade with China. It’s doubtful that Bezos intends to aggressively use The Post to advance Amazon’s legislative goals. But over time, who knows? The Post has had to navigate similar tensions in recent years with our Kaplan division, but this will be of a new scale.

Marc Tracy doubts Bezo’s politics will matter very much:

In the end … the combination of Bezos’ business interests and his lack of prior political commitments (he is no George Soros or Sheldon Adelson) probably militate against him doing too much. If he turns the Post into a far-left or far-right newspaper (or, more likely, an annoyingly libertarian-ish one), he risks alienating Amazon consumers who will not bother with the distinction between that company and its CEO.

Yglesias admits that “we have no real idea what he intends to do with the paper”:

Journalism-as-vanity-project-for-rich-guy has a long and storied tradition in America, but it’s a bit of an odd fit in the sense that Bezos has no personal ties to the city of Washington. His memo to Post employees confirms that he has no intention of moving to D.C. to run the paper on a day-to-day basis, and he says the Post “already has an excellent leadership team.” Beyond that, he doesn’t give much hint as to his plans.