WASHINGTON – More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition calling on The Washington Post to tell readers that Amazon, founded by its owner Jeff Bezos, does business with the CIA, activists behind the campaign said Wednesday.
RootsAction.org said it would deliver the petition at the newspaper’s downtown Washington headquarters next Wednesday, as it released an exchange of correspondence with executive editor Martin Baron.
The Post, which Bezos personally acquired in October, reports regularly on the US intelligence community — most recently with coverage of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance.
But RootsAction.org said it should be upfront about the fact that Amazon — which has no stake of its own in the Post — has a $600 million data storage contract with the Central Intelligence Agency and hopes to do more business with the agency in future.
“A basic principle of journalism is to acknowledge when the owner of a media outlet has a major financial relationship with the subject of coverage,” the petition states.
In the exchange, Baron said it would be “outside the norm” for the Post to mention Amazon every time it writes about the CIA, although it would do so in pieces about, for instance, CIA contracting practices.
He also cited the Post’s “very aggressive coverage of the intelligence community,” including the CIA’s hidden involvement in Colombia’s conflict with FARC rebels and Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency (NSA).
“You can be sure neither the NSA nor the CIA has been pleased with publication of their secrets,” said the editor, who declined a request from the petition organizers for a face-to-face meeting.
“Neither Amazon nor Jeff Bezos was involved, nor ever will be involved, in our coverage of the intelligence community,” Baron said, adding: “We take ethics very seriously here at the Post.”
Asked for comment, a Post spokeswoman told AFP by email: “Marty’s responses speak for themselves.”
RootsAction.org describes itself as “the primary website operated by Action for a Progressive Future,” a left-leaning non-profit organization. Its founders include media critic Norman Solomon, who corresponded with Baron.