News Release

Bezos Buys the Post, Pulled Plug on WikiLeaks in 2010

The Washington Post reports: “Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.”

ROBERT McCHESNEY, rwmcchesney at gmail.com
McChesney is co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America and author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, both published this year. He is professor of communications at the University of Illinois.

Said McChesney: “As the commercial model of journalism is in free fall collapse, those remaining news media franchises have become playthings for billionaires, generally of value for political purposes, as old-fashioned monopoly newspapers still carry considerable influence. The United States went through this type of journalism at the turn of the last century and it produced a massive political crisis that led eventually to the creation of professional journalism, to protect the news from the dictates of the owners. Today professionalism has been sacrificed to commercialism, and the resources for actual reporting have plummeted.

“Perhaps nothing better illustrates the desperation facing American journalism and democracy better than the fact we are reduced to praying we get a benevolent billionaire to control our news, when history demonstrates repeatedly such figures are in spectacularly short supply, and the other times we relied on such a model crashed and burned. America meets an existential crisis with an absurd response. No wonder this is a golden age for satire. We have to do better.”

In December 2010, Amazon.com cut off WikiLeaks from its computer servers after the group released a trove of State Department cables. See this letter to Bezos, “Human Rights First Seeks Answers From Amazon in Wake of WikiLeaks Drop,” written at the time.