Bezos's Post Silent on Amazon Fiasco

Paper has yet to cover ban of transgender book by parent company

Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos / Getty Images
February 26, 2021

The Washington Post professes an interest in tech and avows a no-holds-barred relationship toward owner and tech titan Jeff Bezos, but the paper remains silent after Amazon banned a bestselling book without explanation.

Author Ryan T. Anderson tweeted on Monday that Amazon had removed his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment from its platforms. Amazon refused to give an explanation to Anderson or his publisher and has not responded to requests from the Washington Free Beacon or from four senators concerned about its use of monopoly power.

The Post covered Anderson's book extensively when it came out in 2018. The piece, headlined "Ryan Anderson's book on transgender people is creating an uproar," originally contained several misstatements of Anderson's positions. The original version said, "Anderson makes an inflammatory claim—that transgender people are mentally ill." It also claimed Anderson had championed "conversion therapy." When critics pointed out the falsehoods, the Post amended the piece to say, "Anderson makes what some feel is an inflammatory case against transgender people."

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought the Washington Post in 2013. Post editors say they have never experienced editorial pressure from Bezos on stories. Shani George, director of communications for the Post, told the Free Beacon, "We do not discuss our internal coverage plans, and all editorial decisions are made independent of the interests of any outside party or company."

Marty Baron, the current executive editor, stressed in a New Yorker interview that Bezos "actually believes in the mission of journalism; that he thinks it's really important for a democracy." Baron also said the Post had "significantly expanded its coverage of technology." Baron will leave the paper at the end of February.

When asked by the New Yorker if the Post covered Amazon differently than other companies, Baron strenuously denied it: "In fact, sometimes I wonder whether we feel that we have to be even more aggressive just to prove that we're not being controlled in some way by our boss."

Updated 5:01 p.m. to include comment from Shani George of the Washington Post.