Amazon: NYT Takedown Was a Mistake-Filled Mess

Rep Jay Carney insinuates piece wouldn't have passed Journalism 101
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2015 11:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jeff Bezos took umbrage back in August at a New York Times takedown of Amazon's supposedly toxic work environment. Now Jay Carney—President Obama's former press secretary and now chief spokesman for Amazon—is on the offensive, via a lengthy response to the Aug. 15 piece that was the most-commented-on article in the paper's history and praised by Executive Editor Dean Baquet, per Poynter. In a Medium rebuttal, Carney goes for the journalistic jugular, claiming Amazon was never asked to comment on "the dozen or so" scathing employee anecdotes in the piece, that critical facts weren't fact-checked, and that the source of the article's most memorable quote was not so credible. That quote—"Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk"—came from Bo Olson, who the Times said "lasted less than two years in a book marketing role."

Carney writes that Olson's "brief tenure at Amazon ended after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted it and resigned immediately." Carney wants to know why one of the article's co-writers, who was "in regular communication" with Amazon while the article was being put together, never fully vetted a "source whose vivid quote would serve as a lynchpin for the entire piece." He lists other discrepancies and takes the Times to task for violating a host of journalistic standards. "Had the reporters checked their facts, the story they published would have been a lot less sensational, a lot more balanced, and, let's be honest, a lot more boring. It might not have merited the front page, but it would have been closer to the truth." Read his entire response on Medium. (Read more Amazon stories.)

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