One of President Trump’s less colorful recurring Twitter battles has been with Amazon. Less colorful because Amazon is a company, not a person, and therefore has no physical features to mock and turn into an offensive nickname. But Trump’s one-sided feud may be among his most consequential: Today Amazon shares fell 5 percent, wiping out nearly $30 billion of market value — all because of Trump’s feelings about the company.
The dive followed an Axios report that Trump is “obsessed” with the world’s largest retailer and wants to find a way to rein it via antitrust law. Meanwhile, Capitol Hill and much of his constituency are up in arms about Facebook’s potential privacy violations and are pressing for reform. But Trump hasn’t tweeted a peep about that.
So what’s behind the Trump Amazon obsession?
What’s the beef with Amazon? The company is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. Trump is convinced the news outlet is against him, and his ire dates back to the campaign, when he said he was banning the Post from covering his events. The president “pays close attention to the Amazon founder’s ownership of the ‘Washington Post,’ which the president views as Bezos’ political weapon,” says Axios today.
He has repeatedly referred to the Post as “AmazonWashingtonPost.” In June 2017, he complained it was not paying “internet taxes,” which do not exist.
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
Amazon CEO Bezos, also a target of Trump’s ire, is the wealthiest man in the world thanks to Amazon, while Trump’s net worth and place on the Forbes list continues to slip.
The president’s thinking is also influenced by wealthy friends who tell him Amazon is destroying their businesses, says Axios. “His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.”
Trump thinks the company has gotten a free ride from taxpayers — it paid zero federal taxes last year — and the U.S. Postal Service (even though the boom in online buying has given USPS a flood of new business, even spurring extended service on Sundays). “It’s been explained to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate and that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon,” a source told Axios.
What does Trump want to do about it? Tweet shady stuff until he figures it out, apparently. “The president would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos’ wings,” reports Axios. “But he doesn’t have a plan to make that happen.”