May 16, 2016

Bad guy vs. bad guy: Bad guy wins


Trump faceNow that Ronald Reagan is dead, is there any other living entity as Teflon-coated as Donald Trump? Yes, there is, and that entity went head to head with Trump last week and … nothing happened.

Yep, much as I hate agreeing with a guy who matches the dictionary’s definition of a fascist pretty much to a T (hey, he’s even got a private security force), late in the week Trump nailed Amazon — the company that matches the dictionary’s definition of monopoly to a T — again and again with tweets like this one, which somehow resurfaced from late 2015:

And this one:

And this one:

What prompted Trump’s rage this time? The fact that the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has assigned 20 — count ‘em, 20 — reporters to investigate Trump for a book it plans to publish and excerpt (as detailed in this earlier MobyLives report), that’s what. As Trump explained last Thursday on Fox News to one of his keenest supports, Sean Hannity

… every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from The Washington Post, asking ridiculous questions, and I will tell you this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using The Washington Post for power, so the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody, it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for anti-trust, because he’s got a huge anti-trust problem because he’s controlling so much. Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing, and what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing, and he’s using that as a tool for political power, against me and against other people. And I’ll tell you what, we can’t let him get away with it. So he’s got about 20, 25, I just heard they’re taking these really bad stories — I mean they’re, you know, wrong. I don’t even say bad, they’re wrong. And in many cases, they have no proper information and they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together, and they’re going to do a book.

Of course, Amazon’s astro-turfers came out in full-force to deny any such insinuation against this sainted international monopoly. Trump’s claim that “Amazon is seeking political influence in order to avoid paying taxes is badly outdated,” huffed Matthew Yglesias on Vox. Yglesias observed that 25 states now “make Amazon collect taxes.” No surprise, Yglesias doesn’t dwell on his own observation that Amazon had to be made to do so in those 25 states. Nor does he note that 25 states means that Amazon is collecting taxes in only half the country — and it’s worth gazillions of dollars to keep it at that. But astro-turfers are astro-turfers. They get more platform than they deserve from a wimpy media — remember when two guys on the Amazon payroll were the prime sources when New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan criticized the Times’ own coverage of Amazon? Anyone notice that Sullivan recently left the Times to go work for — can you guess? — Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. So I’ll say it if no one else will: screw the astro-turfers. What about the so-called respectable media? Did any significant news outlet pick up on the Trump v Amazon story to examine the key claims? Did, for example, any of the major broadcasters ask Trump to please telephone them at his convenience with his thoughts on this subject, as they have become wont to do with this particular candidate? Well, no. In fact, not a one. Did it make the front pages of the Times or the Journal or the Post as so many of Trump’s most deranged comments have been doing for months and months now? Nope. The Times new Amazon reporter, Nick Winfield, decided to ignore it … although the Times’ former Amazon reporter, David Streitfeld, was on it it via Twitter, even though it’s not his beat anymore:

So what to make of it all? Fascist vs. monopoly, whom are we to believe? And can siding with either one do us any good?

Well, sans the cogent coverage of mainstream media distilling this into something that can orient us, we’re left to our suspicions. But I’ll say this regarding Trump’s pronouncements: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives