Does Jeff Bezos love football more than he loves newspapers? That’s a question being asked in the nation’s capital as its NFL franchise hits the block.
Chatter is growing that Amazon’s billionaire founder is looking to pave the way for a buyout of the Washington Commanders by selling The Washington Post – with speculation spurred last month by a leaked video by editor Fred Ryan disclose layoff plans during an unruly municipal assembly.
The problem for Bezos would be that embattled Commanders owner Dan Snyder is still sore over the legendary newspaper’s series of exposures alleging a toxic management culture within the team, where bosses including Snyder allegedly sexual harassment enabled.
Some even think that Snyder suspects Bezos, who bought the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 millionencouraged difficult coverage in 2020 in an attempt to force him to sell the team to him.
Last week, Bezos stoked fears of impending layoffs to the Washington Post during an awkward visit to the newsroom. A source close to the situation said Bezos had told senior newspaper executives in private meetings that he had no intention of selling the newspaper.
Nonetheless, a logical suitor thinks the Washington Post is for sale and plans to make an offer, said a source with direct knowledge of the situation, declining to name the suitor. A second source who buys and sells newspapers said he had also heard the paper might be up for grabs.
“I think the Bezos people could go up to Dan and say as a sign of goodwill, ‘We’re selling the paper,'” a source familiar with the matter said. “I think it would go a long way with Dan.”
Meanwhile, Front Office Sports reported last Tuesday that Bank of America, contracted by Snyder to auction off the commanders, “continues to woo Bezos – even though there are indications that Snyder doesn’t want to sell” to the founder. ‘Amazon.
Bezos did not hire an investment banker to sell The Washington Post, nor did he make it clear that he was in fact for sale, the source added. None of these sources are close to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, according to a Dec. 23 report by Axios, is interested in buying The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post.
A Bloomberg spokesperson said at the time that “there has been no conversation with anyone or with either organization regarding an acquisition. has no interest in acquiring either.
A spokesperson for Bezos said The Washington Post was not for sale. A spokesperson for the Journal – whose owner, News Corp., also owns the New York Post – said the paper was not for sale.
Last week, reports surfaced that the commanders had accepted first-round offers from potential buyers and that Bezos – who would have been in talks with Jay-Z to team up for a buyout – was not among them.
Bezos has been tight-lipped on the subject of commanders, with the exception of a November interview on CNN in which he said football was his “favorite sport” and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez replied, “I like football. football – I’ll just throw that over there.
Sportswriters, meanwhile, were happy to weigh in on behalf of Dan Snyder – whose disposition towards Bezos is decidedly less enthusiastic, according to reports.
“Not only have I been told Bezos hasn’t submitted an offer, but people have told me the Snyder family has absolutely no interest in selling to Bezos,” tweeted JP Finlay, who covers the Commanders for NBC Sports this past weekend. This was in response to reports that the highest first-round bid was $6.3 billion – short of the $7 billion-plus that Snyder would have sought.
This was also after an anonymous source told Peter King of NBC Sports in November, “It will never happen. Dan Snyder hates the Washington Post. No question that he sells to the owner of this newspaper.
Dan Froomkin, editor of the non-profit organization Press Watch, notes that the Amazon tycoon – currently the fourth richest person in the world with a net worth of $120 billion, according to Forbes — is known for his libertarian-leaning political views that have long been an awkward fit for The Washington Post.
“I can easily imagine better owners for The Washington Post than Jeff Bezos,” Froomkin said.
In 2018, a The Washington Post editorial raised eyebrows when he criticized “corporate welfare tax” legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dubbed the “Stop BEZOS Act.” Bezos tweeted the article. Last May, Bezos argued on Twitter with President Biden about taxesdemanding a government fact-check on the president’s claims that low corporate taxes were fueling inflation.
Yet Froomkin added, “I can even more easily imagine worse owners for the Post, and that would be a national and journalistic tragedy, and a complete betrayal of the assurances Bezos made to Don Graham when he bought the Post in 2013 that he would do what’s right for the Post.
Bezos, for his part, has publicly stated that he never dreamed of owning a newspaper. Former Post owner Donald Graham asked Bezos to buy it in 2013 to provide financial stability and drive online growth. While the paper grew rapidly under Bezos at first, bolstering staff and coverage, it was apparently on track to lose money in 2022 after years of profits as readership dwindled after the end of the Trump administration.
“I know that when I turn 90 it will be one of the things I will be most proud of, that I took the Washington Post and helped it through a very difficult transition,” Bezos said in the 2021 book “Invent and Wander”, a collection of his writings.
Now, Bezos’ attachment to the paper may be weaker than ever, said Edward Wasserman, a UC Berkeley journalism professor, who notes that Bezos’ summer Twitter spat with Biden drew critical coverage at the time.
“Bezos belatedly realized the obligations of owning The Washington Post — if he didn’t realize it would muzzle him, he realizes it now,” Wasserman said. “It would make sense for him to get away with it.”