The Obama-era rallying crying "break the internet" has become "tax the internet," at least where President Trump is concerned.
Yesterday, after Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold broke the story that Trump had posted a fake cover of Time magazine starring himself at 17 of his clubs — leading to Time asking the president to remove the covers — Trump took to Twitter to enact his revenge. He restated his harsh criticisms of the Washington Post and its owner, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, whom he has long considered an adversary.
The fake Time cover showed Trump on a March 1, 2009 cover, posing under headlines like "The 'Apprentice' is a television smash!" and "Trump is hitting on all fronts… even TV!" Fahrenthold reported: "There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time magazine. And there was no issue at all in 2009 that had Trump on the cover."
"The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!," the president tweeted.
The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017
This line of attack was interesting twofold, journalists observed: one, the president tweeted this after literally posting fake news; and second, he referred to internet taxes, which do not exist.
That wasn't the only inaccuracy in those 140 characters: Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013, for $250 million, separately from Amazon; the company does not own the Post. What Trump meant by "internet taxes" was unclear: Taxes on internet access are disallowed by the Internet Tax Freedom Act. In the past, Trump has accused Bezos and Amazon of inadquately filling the federal government's tax coffers by waiving tax on customer purchases. That is also not correct: Amazon charges tax in every state that has a sale tax.
The White House did not comment on the president's allegations.
In 2015, Trump accused Amazon of being a "tax shelter." Just over a year later, during one of the presidential debates, he said that avoiding taxes "makes him smart." Also during the presidential campaign, Trump threatened to ban the Post from his news conferences and rallies. Complicating the whipsaw Trump/Bezos relationship, Fortune magazine pointed out that Trump had hosted Bezos at the White House during Tech Week just last week.
In a longstanding break from presidential tradition, Trump continues to refuse to release his own tax returns.