Quoted: Amazon strikes back against damning New York Times story

“When the story came out, we knew it misrepresented Amazon. Once we could look into the most sensational anecdotes, we realized why. We presented the Times with our findings several weeks ago, hoping they might take action to correct the record. They haven’t, which is why we decided to write about it ourselves.”

Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs. Amazon is again hitting back at a New York Times article about a brutal corporate workplace culture at the online retailer. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had already spoken out against the story, which was published in August, saying it didn’t “describe the Amazon I know.” But Amazon isn’t done. Carney — the former press secretary for President Obama — this morning published a Medium post attacking the NYT’s journalistic practices.

For example, the NYT story quoted former Amazon employee Bo Olson as saying “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” Carney’s response:

Here’s what the story didn’t tell you about Mr. Olson: his brief tenure at Amazon ended after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted it and resigned immediately.

Carney provides a couple of other instances that he says should have been accompanied by more context. He says Jodi Kantor, one of the two reporters who wrote the story, “never asked us to check or comment on any of the dozen or so negative anecdotes from named sources that form the narrative backbone of the story.” He suggests that Amazon would’ve shared the details, which he reveals now, about the employees in question.

The New York Times said it talked with more than 100 current and former Amazon employees in reporting its story, which described a punishing workplace complete with the aforementioned crying, backstabbing and punishing employees for health problems. Since the NYT report, Amazon has expanded its effort to get feedback about how its corporate employees are feeling about their work, according to Bloomberg News.

Update: New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has penned a Medium post in response to Carney’s Medium post, saying “I want to reiterate my support for our story about Amazon’s culture… Virtually every person quoted in the story stated a view that multiple other workers had also told us.” Baquet notes, among other things, that Olson disputes Amazon’s account of his departure.

Photo: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the new Amazon Fire Phone on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)


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  • The FACE of Amazon

    Amazon wants us to ignore the problems with its managers in refuting only those few specific cases. These are widespread problems which they refuse to fix because they always side with the managers, no matter how abusive or unethical they are. They have taken the manager autonomy model too far without any checks and balances. More details here:https://sites.google.com/site/thefaceofamazon

  • Merle Kessler

    So they’re NOT jerks at Amazon? Because Amazon says?

  • pbtad

    If anyone from the NYT wants to interview and quote me, my tenure with Amazon was 12.5 years — which isn’t “brief”.

    I will verify that all of the accusations are true.

    I have seen most of my co-workers sobbing at their desks (or punch the wall hard enough to bleed).

  • Lucia Lolita

    Amazon. Not good. Not good at all.