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Washington Post journalists have asked their boss if he could spend part of his massive fortune on benefits for his employees, after Jeff Bezos forked over $5.25 million for a Super Bowl ad that paid homage to the paper he owns.
The paper ran a $5.25 million, Tom Hanks-narrated ad during the Super Bowl which, according to the Post’s CEO Fred Ryan, highlighted “the important, and increasingly dangerous, work of journalists around the world.”
Bezos, the founder of internet retail giant Amazon and the world’s richest man, bought the Washington Post in August 2013 – but according to some of his employees, the billionaire may be more interested in tooting his newspaper’s horn than providing benefits to the journalists that he purportedly so deeply admires.
“Now unfreeze our pensions, pay an equal wage, and strengthen maternity benefits,” Washington Post journalist Dan Zak wrote in response to a tweet by Bezos sharing the pricey promotion.
His colleague, reporter Abigail Hauslohner, said in response to the ad that Bezos should put his money where his mouth is – and provide paid paternal leave and equal pay to his employees.
“You can do it because it’s the right thing to do. Or you can do it because journalism matters. The truth matters. Journalists need to be able to do their best work. They shouldn’t have to choose btw work & family,” she wrote.
The advertisement was not well received by the rest of the journalism community, with pundits and reporters from across the political spectrum skewering the melodramatic plug as a waste of money.
“For the price of running that ad just once, the Post could have hired a dozen reporters for four years,” Daily Mail political editor David Martosko mused.
Independent journalist Aaron Maté was similarly peeved by Bezos’ investment choice.
“This sounds like a really cool 60 seconds about ‘the critical work of reporters’ but did they consider that $5.25 million could’ve hired a lot of unemployed reporters to do their critical work?”
“Imagine working at WaPo and wanting a raise & seeing that bullshit $5,000,000 ad,” Daily Caller reporter Benny Johnson joked.
Humorously, it’s rumored that Bezos only ran the Washington Post tribute after pulling a $20 million ad for his spaceflight company, Blue Origin, after it was revealed that his mistress had helped shoot footage for the commercial. According to Page Six, sources familiar with the matter said that Bezos spent a fortune on the ad specifically so he could spend more time with his lover, Lauren Sanchez, but pulled the plug on the promo after his affair went public. Bezos recently divorced his wife of 25 years.
The billionaire businessman has faced criticisms for low pay and substandard labor practices at Amazon, even while reaping record profits. His business dealings with the CIA have also raised eyebrows about the Washington Post’s commitment to its new motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”