retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Jim Huey:

On Jeff Bezos, I can’t figure out why all of the narrative is about the reprehensible behavior of The National Enquirer (which is horrible) and little if any is focused on Bezos reprehensible behavior. You are famous for offering a mea culpa when you make a mistake, I’ve read nothing to suggest that Bezos thinks he did anything wrong and has offered no mea culpa.

All of us do things that are wrong every day, I certainly wouldn’t want anyone talking to my high school or college buddies about my life then or looking inside my head in weak moments. The difference is whether you come clean about your mistakes and ask for forgiveness. President Trump has not and I judge him harshly for it. I feel the same way about Jeff Bezos now. It makes him very small in my eyes despite his many accomplishments.


Nobody here is going to defend Bezos’s personal conduct … it is the reason that, other than our original report about the divorce announcement (which had a business angle), it was never referred to here until last week’s story about extortion and blackmail (which also had a business angle).

I do think that these situations are complicated - we only know what we know. And so while I don’t defend it, I try not to be in the business of judging people’s decisions in their personal lives.

Sure, I say . Often. And in public, when I write something here that is misconceived, ill-informed, inaccurate, or just plain wrong. I owe you that. But I would suggest that Bezos doesn’t owe you or me any apologies … and we don’t know if he’s expressed contrition of any sort to people to whom he would owe them. Not really our business. (He may end up owing apologies to Amazon stakeholders if this mess hurts the business, but that remains to be seen.)

In his blog posting last week, Bezos said that his ownership of the Washington Post had been a “complexifier” in his life. (The New York Times pointed out that a) yes, this is a real word … but in French, not English, and b) it means exactly what you think it means.)

Well, I’m old enough to think that there are a lot of complexifiers in people’s lives.

From MNB reader Chris Connolly:

For as much as you reserve your special “circle of hell” for tobacco companies, mine would be for the companies who print the check stand “trash journalism” papers that were referred to in your blog yesterday……and it would be for the same reason.

My mom was a life-long successful businessperson who just happened to raise a family in her spare time.   While she was working, she read at least two daily newspapers each day and could speak intelligently on a wide variety of subjects.  Despite never having attended college, she was a well-respected manager who delivered consistently positive results and raised five kids who all went to college (four of whom all earned at least masters’ degrees).  When she retired, she elected to surround herself with weekly purchases of such mind-wasting papers to serve as her primary source of news and entertainment.   At first I thought the behavior was funny and a bit ironic, but as time went on I could tell that she was having difficulty separating the facts from fiction.   I remain convinced that this behavior contributed to her social demise as a retiree and caused her to have a poorer quality of life until she passed------and I regret that I ran a retail supermarket that sold these publications over my entire 20-year career.

The suggestion made yesterday that national retailers should discontinue their relationships with these publishers as a way to improve the retailers’ public image has great validity; however, given the current political environment, I perceive that such a decision by a retailer would immediately be interpreted by some as having an underlying political motive, regardless of whether there was one or not.   As the father of a son who holds a degree in journalism, I support the First Amendment rights of these companies to print their materials but, if I had it to do over again, I would choose not to sell them.


Agreed.
KC's View: