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How The Washington Post’s New Owner Aided the CIA, Blocked WikiLeaks & Decimated the Book Industry

The Washington Post announced on Monday the paper had been sold to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for $250 million. Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest men, now controls one of the most powerful newspapers in the country. Some critics of the sale have cited Bezos’ close ties to the U.S. government. In 2010, Amazon pulled the plug on hosting the WikiLeaks website under heavy political pressure. Earlier this year, Amazon inked a $600 million cloud-computing deal with the CIA. Independent booksellers and publishers have also long complained about Amazon’s business practices. We host a roundtable on the history of Amazon and the future of the newspaper industry. "Monopoly newspapers, especially The Washington Post in the nation’s capital, while it might not be a commercially viable undertaking, it still has tremendous political power," says Robert McChesney, co-founder of Free Press. "What we have is a plaything for these billionaires that they can then use aggressively to promote their own politics." Media critic Jeff Cohen notes that while The Washington Post notably published reports on Watergate and the Pentagon Papers decades ago, he thinks concerns that Bezos will ruin its journalistic tradition is unfounded, saying that in recent years, "The Washington Post has really been the newspaper of the bipartisan consensus." We also speak to Dennis Johnson, publisher of Melville Books. "Amazon is a company that feels no pain. They’ve, as far as I can tell, never made money. … So, when you see him taking over The Washington Post and you wonder is he going to be able to monetize it, is he going to make it profitable, he probably doesn’t care," Johnson says.

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