As hundreds of corporate chief executives take a stand against Breitbart, Jeff Bezos risks looking like a hypocrite. Openly critical of Trump during the election campaign, now Amazon boss Jeff Bezos seems keen to play nicely with the new administration. As Donald Trump introduces a new iteration of his anti-Muslim travel ban, he finds himself with a surprising ally in Amazon.
While CEO Jeff Bezos has publicly challenged Trump’s previous Executive Order on immigration, the executives that decide Amazon’s advertising policies are walking a different line. Amazon likes to think itself a progressive company like Facebook or Google, but its executives’ advertising spend is currently propping up one of the most pernicious tools in the far-right’s arsenal by advertising with the so-called “news” outlet, and notoriously pro-Trump, Breitbart.
If Amazon stopped advertising with Breitbart, it would hardly be blazing a trail. At the moment, advertisers are deserting the outlet faster than rats from a sinking ship. In fact, over 1,400 businesses have ended their relationship with Breitbart, making Amazon something of a laggard, which is not a position the company is usually content to occupy.
If Amazon needs proof of connection between Breitbart’s agenda and Trump’s electoral success, then it will find no shortage. Stephen Bannon, who served as Breitbart’s executive chair, now works as Trump’s chief strategist. Last year, he boasted that Breitbart was the “platform for the alt-right” or the white supremacist movement.
Breitbart presents itself with the mantle of a legitimate news outlet though that is a hard claim to defend after a skim of the site’s homepage, with headlines like ”Would You Rather Your Child had Feminism or Cancer?” The platform is full of anti-LGBTQ diatribes, stories demonising immigrants, women and Muslims. Scroll down to the comments section and readers can expect to be greeted with a slalom run of anti-immigrant, misogynistic and anti-Semitic rants.
But Jeff Bezos, like other CEOs before him, might be about to discover that there’s a limit to the things his customers are prepared to ignore when it comes to Amazon’s Janus-like position on the Trump administration and its backers. A powerful grassroots campaign led by Sleeping Giants - and supported by over 900,000 SumOfUs members - is gaining traction through social media, and it has already pushed companies like BMW, T-Mobile and Kellogg’s to ditch Breitbart.
Now, over 546,719 SumOfUs members around the world have called on Amazon to join with the list of those corporations which have already shown the courage to pick a side. It is not too late for Amazon to stop funneling funds to the media wing of Trump’s already catastrophic administration.
SumOfUs members already know that corporate players lie at the bedrock of the Trump administration. They understand that consumers will not tolerate corporations that take positions to fudge the lines between commercial self-interest and defending the principles at the heart of democracy.
By cutting off its contributions to Breitbart’s revenue streams, Amazon can help turn down the volume on a media operation and political project that has breathed new life into the agenda of white supremacists, and those that would heap bile upon women, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people and other minorities the world over. While Amazon might be too late to protect America from Trump’s first ascendancy, it may not be too late to stop this divisive, dehumanising agenda in its tracks.