Skip to main content

Amazon’s PR chief gets combative on Twitter over media criticism

Amazon’s PR chief gets combative on Twitter over media criticism

/

Jay Carney takes to social media to lash out at reporters

Share this story

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon PR chief Jay Carney spent his Monday evening engaging in series of escalating and increasingly combative arguments with members of the news media on Twitter. It marks a rare case of one of the e-commerce giant’s more notable representatives taking a less measured approach to public relations. As of this article’s publication, Carney’s tweets are still live.

Carney, a former White House press secretary under President Barack Obama, specifically took issue with framings of his op-ed in The New York Times this morning, titled “Why Bernie Sanders Praised Amazon.” Some reporters, most prominently members of BuzzFeed News, found the op-ed opportunistic and too conveniently timed to a recent letter from the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate that condemned Amazon for its abysmal worker safety record.

Carney’s op-ed for the NYT framed a 2018 phone call from Sanders as a voice of support from the senator for Amazon raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. It did, however, leave out that Amazon did so after pressure from Sanders himself, among other vocal critics and labor activists.

“While we fully agree that a company of Amazon’s size should be scrutinized, we also believe people should know that Amazon is doing exactly what many lawmakers and critics insist the private sector should do,” Carney wrote, noting that Amazon raised its minimum wage without being directed to do so by the federal government.

Reporters soon began pointing out how convenient it was that Carney was touting a personal thank you from Sanders delivered to his boss, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, while leaving out details about the pressure campaign Sanders waged. Some reporters also pointed out that the op-ed also seemed designed to counter a letter sent by Sanders and 14 other Senators sent last week, but made widely public earlier today, that condemned the company’s higher-than-average injury rate for private sector employers.

Carney began attacking reporters over the course of multiple hours on Monday

Another thread of criticism directed toward Carney has been a broader call, one often repeated by Sanders and numerous other Amazon critics, that the company does not pay its fair share of taxes and so should not be patting itself on the back for raising its minimum wage.

Under normal circumstances, this would be an anticipated response, especially considering Carney’s boss is the owner of The Washington Post, which routinely publishes opinion pieces that criticize Amazon and reports and investigations that cast the company in a negative light.

But Carney instead began sniping at individual reporters with a series of attacks ranging from the evoking of Watergate journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to calling a reporter an “adolescent” for using the phrase “no offense.” Carney also touted his journalism career, which spanned more than two decades across outlets like The Miami Herald and Time Magazine, as a reason why he can speak with authority on media criticism.

Here’s a selection of Carney’s tweets, captured for posterity by BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac, who was the among the many Carney took aim at:

Carney also claimed in follow-up tweets that Sanders’ criticism of Amazon regarding its minimum wage had nothing to do with the company’s decision. “I’m saying we agreed with [Bernie Sanders] at the time but acted because because it was the right thing to do for our employees, not because he called for it. People call for a lot of things,” Carney tweeted. Carney also did acknowledge in his op-ed that Sanders’ support “didn’t last long.”

But the Sanders anecdote, as well as the op-ed headline, provided Carney a springboard to promote what he sees as Amazon’s altruism. “Still, [Sanders’] call at least recognized a reality often forgotten or ignored in debates about the role a company like ours can and should play in the economy,” Carney writes of the positive effect Amazon’s wage hike has had. Later in the op-ed, he concludes that Amazon’s critics “will at times have good ideas about how we, and other major companies, can do both more and better.”

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.