Why Won’t Jeff Bezos Save the Washington Post?

On March 15, Jeff Bezos and his fiance Lauren Sánchez announced that Eva Longoria and Admiral Bill McRaven were the 2024 recipients of the $100 million Bezos Courage and Civility Award.

The award, which is now on its third year, aims “to recognize leaders who aim high and pursue solutions with courage and civility.” Longoria is honored with half of the grant, or $50 million, for her “incredible contributions to empowering Latinas to create brighter futures as well as her work to promote a more inclusive society.” 

McRaven, the four-star admiral who oversaw the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, is receiving the award to further his work “in support of our democracy, and his personal work in support of veterans, and the children of fallen soldiers continue to have lasting impact.”

Critics, primarily the independent news publication The Intercept, can’t help but compare the grant amount and the $100 million that Washington Post — the publication that Bezos saved by buying in 2013 — lost in 2023, causing it to cut almost 10% of its staff.

The Intercept posits that the award is a way for Bezos to reward those who stand up against Donald Trump, with McRaven “writing multiple op-eds in Bezos’s Washington Post denouncing Trump.” 

“The 2021 award recipient Van Jones has blasted the former president for years, alongside chef José Andrés who sued the president after comments he made about Mexican Americans. The 2022 recipient Dolly Parton rejected Trump’s offer for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and this year, Eva Longoria used her celebrity status to mobilize Latino voters against the former president.”

It asks the question, if Bezos, who once again became the richest person on Earth according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index with a net worth of $200 billion, wants to give away his wealth to fight climate change and reduce inequality, why won’t he rather save the Washington Post this time around?

The Post’s struggle isn’t unique. The advertising drought and souring relationship between media and big tech haven’t made for a great time for the industry. Just this year, the Los Angeles Times, Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal, and Time magazine have all laid off staff. Newcomer The Messenger abruptly shuttered its doors in January, and Vice Media shut off Vice.com after cutting nearly a thousand jobs just last month.

Is it because Bezos, through “courage and civility,” has found it more worthwhile to cultivate his personal brand and relationships rather than operating the Post as a robust, well-funded journalistic enterprise?

“When I’m 90, it’s going to be one of the things I’m most proud of, that I took on the Washington Post and helped them through a very rough transition,” Bezos said in a Forbes interview in 2013.

Information for this story was found via The Intercept, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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