Ten years ago today (August 5, 2013), we learned that multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos had bought the financially-struggling Washington Post for $250 million. As sole owner, the Amazon founder had an opportunity to demand that the Post hew to its longtime motto of being “an independent newspaper.” Yet the record of the past decade shows the paper has been as rabidly pro-Democrat and anti-Republican as it was under the ownership of the Graham family.
In all likelihood, the fix was in from the beginning. In a written message the day his purchase was announced, Bezos assured “the employees of the Washington Post” that “the values of The Post do not need changing.”
And journalists, who would have howled if the Post had been purchased by a conservative billionaire, had kind words for the “white knight” Bezos. “This isn’t Rupert Murdoch buying the Wall Street Journal. This is somebody who believes in the values that the Post has been prominent in practicing, and so I don’t see any downside,” longtime editor Bob Woodward enthused on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the next day.
“It’s part of a recent trend in which wealthy individuals are becoming the saviors, in many cases, of traditional mainstream and especially print media,” NBC’s Brian Williams touted on the August 5 Nightly News. On Today the next morning, correspondent Tom Costello saluted Bezos as “a white knight with deep pockets, helping to save one of this country’s great newspapers.”
In reality, Bezos’s financial support merely insulated the Post from the predictable economic consequences of its obvious liberal slant. According to the New York Times, the Post is “on a pace to lose about $100 million in 2023.” Instead of taking a hard-headed approach to make the Post a truly independent newspaper, Bezos has instead subsidized its money-losing partisan approach.
As before, the Post’s leadership continued to insist it’s an “independent” newspaper that treats both liberals and conservatives alike. As outgoing Post editor Marty Baron claimed on CNN’s Reliable Sources in 2021, after nearly eight years of Bezos’s leadership: “There’s also this notion that we’re somehow ideologically attached to a party — the Democratic party. And that’s not true. We are completely independent.”
Such claims of “independence” fly in the face of the almost-daily evidence of the Post’s partisanship published here at NewsBusters. Here are just ten of the many outrageous quotes from the Post and its writers, all since Bezos took over in 2013:
Anti-Obama Tea Party = Bigoted “New Confederacy”
“The New Confederacy, as churlish toward President Obama as the Old Confederacy was to Lincoln, has accomplished what its predecessor could not: It has shut down the federal government, and without even firing a weapon or taking 620,000 lives, as did the Old Confederacy’s instigated Civil War....But don’t go looking for a group by the name of New Confederacy. They earned that handle from me because of their visceral animosity toward the federal government and their aversion to compassion for those unlike themselves. They respond, however, to the label ‘tea party.’ By thought, word and deed, they must be making Jefferson Davis proud today.”
— Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King in an October 5, 2013 piece headlined, “The rise of the New Confederacy.”
Still Detesting Reagan for Busting 30-Year-Ago Strike
“I still call Reagan National Airport ‘National Airport.’... It seemed odd to me to rename National after a man who, for the eight years he lived in Washington, didn’t even use the airport. (Air Force One lands at Andrews, remember?) Then there’s the irony of naming an airport after the guy who broke the air traffic controllers’ union. It’s like renaming Atlanta ‘Shermanville.’”
— Washington Post Metro columnist John Kelly in a May 21, 2014 column.
Republicans = “The Party of Jefferson Davis”
“Fueled by the mega-donations of the mega-rich, today’s Republican Party is not just far from being the party of Lincoln: It’s really the party of Jefferson Davis. It suppresses black voting; it opposes federal efforts to mitigate poverty; it objects to federal investment in infrastructure and education just as the antebellum South opposed internal improvements and rejected public education; it scorns compromise. It is nearly all white. It is the lineal descendant of Lee’s army, and the descendants of Grant’s have yet to subdue it.”
— Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, April 8, 2015.
Trump Personally Responsible for Hurricanes
“When it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks....There is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.”
— From a September 11, 2018 Washington Post editorial: “Another hurricane is about to batter our coast. Trump is complicit.”
Hyping Liz Warren = “The Springsteen of Campaign 2020”
“Warren has a fully evolved performance style, one that binds her roll-up-her-sleeves biography powerfully and fluidly to her average, working person’s philosophy. In a grittily poetic way, her spiel is akin to that of a folksy troubadour: She is the Springsteen of campaign 2020.”
— Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks in August 16, 2019 article “Elizabethan: Warren knows the power of words.”
“Burn Down the Republican Party”
“It’s not only that Trump has to lose, but that all his enablers have to lose. We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican party. We have to level them because if there are survivors – if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.”
— Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin on MSNBC’s AM Joy, August 25, 2019.
Rush Limbaugh = KKK Leader David Duke
“Opinion: What’s next – giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to David Duke?”
— February 5, 2020 tweet from the Washington Post’s official Twitter account after President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
After Trump, the Statue of Liberty Is “Meaningless”
“Compared with other icons of national identity, it is ambiguous and ambivalent. As familiar to some Americans as the flag, the statue is just as meaningless or foreign to others, a sign without significance, or worse, a symbol of hypocrisy or unfulfilled promises…The noble sentiments of the poem by Emma Lazarus — ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ — were all but effaced in the past four years of strident and often violent anti-immigrant sentiment.”
— Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott in July 3, 2021 column “Maybe it’s time to admit that the Statue of Liberty has never quite measured up.”
Stupid DeSantis Is “Killing His Political Supporters”
“Sickening and killing your political supporters seems to me the stupidest and most short-sighted political strategy I’ve ever heard of. Yet, that’s what DeSantis is doing….He’s insisting that pediatric wards fill with Covid patients. It is outrageous to say the least, and frankly, it’s, it’s criminal. It should be criminal….He’s harming people….in search of his own political aims and it’s just disgusting.”
— MSNBC analyst and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, August 10, 2021.
Pushing the Times to Be Just as Partisan as the Post
“Our very democracy is on the brink, and how the [New York] Times covers that existential threat is of extraordinary importance, especially as crucial elections approach this fall and in 2024. Will the paper’s coverage forthrightly identify the problems posed by a radicalized Republican Party that is increasingly dedicated to lies, bad-faith attacks and the destruction of democratic norms, or will it try to treat today’s politics as simply the result of bipartisan ‘polarization’? Will it try to cut the situation straight down the middle as if we were still in the old days — an era that no longer exists?”
— Washington Post Style columnist Margaret Sullivan, April 24, 2022.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.