May 14, 2016

If Bezos were really out to use WaPo to get Trump...

... he'd take down the subscription wall.

Here's Trump's accusation (which we talked about yesterday):
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 ... Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He's using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed.... He thinks I'll go after him for antitrust... Because he's got a huge antitrust problem because he's controlling so much, Amazon is controlling so much of what they are doing. He's using The Washington Post, which is peanuts, he's using that for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust.
If WaPo were just Bezos's toy (or political tool) and his moneymaking all happened over at Amazon, why would he limit the reach of his voice with a pay wall?

25 comments:

Meade said...

The pay wall just got 10 articles shorter.

tim in vermont said...

I agree. I think the Hillary supporters who bought the National Enquirer, placed at every checkout counter in America, were much better judges of that kind of investment. When a large Hillary donor bought the Onion, which then started running lame defenses of Hillary "Woman Who Was United States Senator, Secretary Of State Told To Be More Inspiring," it was problematic because they flushed their brand down the toilet. Carlos Slim just went to the top and bought the flagship news injection machine, the New York Times. General Electric, which has a huge stake in government decisions from wind turbines, diesel engines, to household light bulbs bought NBC News.

So there are dos and don'ts in this kind of thing. What is laugh out loud funny is to see the lefties complain that the corporate media is some kind of right wing thin.

tim in vermont said...

To be honest, this is the kind of games the Democrats force people to play. The party of "You may not care about eh Democrat Party, the the Democrat Party cares about you!" The party that uses the IRS to harass its enemies, the party that believes in using the government to "punish its enemies and help its friends" as Obama so politely put it.

Mark said...

He kept the story on himself and his talking points. Every day that happens between now and November is a good one for the Donald

Johnathan Birks said...

The Post badly botched their web/paywall policy from the get-go. First they let anybody see virtually everything. Then after many years they put up the paywall. Research shows that people will pay for something they can't get for free (or desperately need) but won't pay for something they've gotten for free already (or can do without), especially when similar content is still available for free. The quality of TWP has eroded dramatically in recent years with much of the newsroom fired/bought out. The hope that Bezos would restock those empty desks was a pipe dream and in any event will never happen.

But I agree that Bezos isn't all that interested in wielding the paper as a weapon. It is at best a revenue stream that continues to hemorrhage revenue.

Curious George said...

"If WaPo were just Bezos's toy (or political tool) and his moneymaking all happened over at Amazon, why would he limit the reach of his voice with a pay wall?"

Not saying that Trump is right, but this is lacking as a rebuttal. Their reach is in the "shares", but more importantly other outlets picking up the meme. As a Rush fan you have to know his schtick of playing sound bites of MSM entities all saying the same thing. WaPo just has to knock over that first Domino.

robinintn said...

But taking down the paywall would give away the game, which would also devalue his prestigious, (to his mind), shiny toy.

Tommy Duncan said...

Their reach is in the "shares", but more importantly other outlets picking up the meme.

Bezos bought a brand with a powerful name that can disseminate his chosen themes. That's a pretty big flame thrower in the world of messaging.

It is funny that the Democrats don't object to the consolidation of power in Bezos' corporate empire. I thought they objected to overly powerful and consolidated corporate power.

buwaya puti said...

Why paywall? Because he's cheap.
But also its value politically isn't entirely defined by its web statistics.

- For Bezos purposes it's more important that it be SEEN to be politically active to the powers that be. That there is an apparently influential WaPo story ticks the box of has Bezos been on board today. Therefore he's been good and we won't squeeze him.

- It's influential as a SOURCE for all other media. You link, or quote, just as thousands do, on blogs, news aggregators like Drudge, facebook, tweets; as well as being the originator of content for broadcast news and hundreds of other newspapers. That's why the NYT is far more significant than its straight numbers. The WaPo is like that, the primary source for US politics.

Rusty said...

Johnathan Birks
"But I agree that Bezos isn't all that interested in wielding the paper as a weapon. It is at best a revenue stream that continues to hemorrhage revenue."

I disagree. Given Bezos' wealth I doubt the write off from the WP amounts to much if there is any at all. Unless he has always had a hankerin' to be a newsman the only other reason to own a newspaper in the nations capital is to influence policy.

tim in vermont said...

At the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this paper in .... sixty years. - Citizen Kane.

Maybe Bezos watched it too many times.

Big Mike said...

If WaPo were just Bezos's toy (or political tool) and his moneymaking all happened over at Amazon, why would he limit the reach of his voice with a pay wall?

Because "everybody does it"? I don't think Bezos has thought about it enough.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that a lot of people here are missing something that I think is important here. The WaPo isn't really aimed at us heathens out in the heartland, but rather is the home paper for our national capital. It's primary target market are the politicians who run the govt, the lobbyists who try to sway them, and the govt employees who are supposed to obey them. We are talking DC and its suburbs in MD and N VA. Many of them probably still get the dead tree version of the paper, and thus get access to most of their content. And if Bezos is using the WaPo to nudge public policy in his direction, he probably doesn't worry about many others than this target market.

Not sure how extensive my access is there, but I did pay to get better access there when the Volokh Conspiracy moved over there last year, and it was quite cheap. Not surprisingly though, I have made little use of my membership otherwise. For one thing the rest of the editorials seem hard left with a rabidly left wing commenters - almost as bad as the NYT. And any national news there of net rest will turn up elsewhere. I tried to read the main page for a bit, and quickly stopped - it was either local, or it was liberal spin.

aritai said...

It's his paper, buying ink or the digital equivalent by the It appears people are not willing to pay for opinion and fiction, which the web drowns us in, but only a few facts, and information that has value for only a short period of time. Why pay for something when you can read what the individual said on twitter or an observer saw or heard recorded on YouTube. Granted that they can be tilting too, but even that will be discovered eventually and a more factual source favored. Limbaugh seems to have an interest mix of opinion mixed in with a few facts. Wonder how his income per subscriber and ad revenue generate compares with the big names, on both sides of his paywall, but even his paywall only seems to be time based. Everything behind the paywall is eventually published in text and even most of the audio snippets. One measure of the quality of opinion is it worth re-reading in a year? A lot of our host’s work qualifies. At least Grandmother still snorts on occasion. Seems fact based publishing wins every time, so the NYT and WPO are likely doomed, as is the WSJ given their hunger for Ad revenue and clicks have caused them to publish as much fiction, opinion as facts. So All the traditional media that want to be paid for entertainment are certain to lose to those that offer it for free on the internet, in return for selling their customers to generate ad revenue. Not a lot different than TV in the 50s where the move to free meant the soap companies were able to dictate content and not the consumer or theater owner. The old is new. As usual. Don't know why anyone cares where Bezos wastes his money, he'll only be able to buy a few elections until the system self-corrects.. or China Inc replaces his business connecting the loading docks in Shenzhen with the U.S distribution network. It’s only software after all. In the meantime have him and your politicians exchange insults makes for good entertainment too.

Michael K said...

"but rather is the home paper for our national capital."

Yup. I was waiting for someone else to say this.

It's the federal bureaucrat hometown paper.

buwaya puti said...

Federal bureaucrat hometown paper makes it useful to keep bureaucrats from bugging Bezos.

I think he bought it as a defensive move. It's a shield, not a sword. It doesnt have to actually be influential, it just needs to appear to be influential.

Lyle Smith said...

Trump is going to take away some votes from the Democrats with this.

Michael K said...

"I think he bought it as a defensive move."

Yup. Smart move for a guy with that much money.

Mark Twain said it best. "‘Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel’ "

Although the quote is is disputed as a Mark Twain quote.

Kylos said...

It's not much of a paywall. You just have to cancel page loading when the article redirects and you'll be able to see the whole thing

rcocean said...

The WaPo is sending a whole team of reporters to dig up dirt on Trump. And every Pol in DC knows that, and also knows that if they cross Amazon and Bezos, the WaPo could send a whole team of reporters to dig up dirt on them.

That's part of the power of the WaPo.

rcocean said...

"You just have to cancel page loading when the article redirects and you'll be able to see the whole thing"

How do you do that?

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

Better than Kylos- just view in private browsing. Wapo like nyt use cookies on your machines to track your usage. This is easy to get around.

khesanh0802 said...

PBandJ Don't say easy and not tell us how. Many of are very computer lethargic. Thanks.

khesanh0802 said...

PB and J Never mind, even Safari tells me how.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Michael K - I don't think the value of the paper is with the low level bureaucrats, but rather the decision makers, notably Congress, lobbyists, political appointees, and super graders. Some of those people may also take other papers, notably the WSJ and NYT, but many more take the WaPo. It gives them the local news, as well as the coupons, classifieds, sports, etc. so, they are uniquely positioned to sway the federal govt through what those decision makers read in that paper. I think that it was inevitable that someone with more money than influence in DC bought it up. If not Bezos, I think it might have been Google which has been pumping obscene amounts of money into lobbying there in recent years.