Trump vs Amazon: More Personal or Political?
By: Steve Smith
It’s no secret that Trump has a bone to pick with Jeff Bezos and has been taking shots at his companies, Amazon and Washington Post, via Twitter. The Trump vs Amazon feud has been more important than most of the President’s squabbles, however, because of its policy implications.
Bezos, who is typically very media shy and has withheld any official response, may have used his shareholder letter to send a subtle dig or reminder that he is not only richer –by a magnitude of 50 or more—but also more popular than Trump.
In the letter Bezos, who had previously been very reluctant reveal the number of Prime members, disclosed it has crossed above 100 million. That surpasses the 62 million that voted for Trump.
And oh, Amazon’s also was voted the #1 American Satisfaction Customer Index for the 8th year in row. Trump’s approval rating hovers near 40 percent.
But what really seems to stick in Trump’s craw is money disparity. The President has a long history of try to inflate his wealth and today, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Trump Lied to Me” to remind people of that fact.
It’s long, but it’s Friday, and the whole thing is worth a read.
In May 1984, an official from the Trump Organization called to tell me how rich Donald J. Trump was. I was reporting for the Forbes 400, the magazine’s annual ranking of America’s richest people, for the third year. In the previous edition, we’d valued Trump’s holdings at $200 million, only one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide urged me on the phone, I needed to understand just how loaded Trump really was.
The official was John Barron — a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself. When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse: Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him. “
Barron” told me that Trump had taken possession of the business he ran with his father, Fred. “Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr. Trump,” he said. “You have down Fred Trump [as half owner] . . . but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.” Trump, through this sockpuppet, was telling me he owned “in excess of 90 percent” of his family’s business. With all the home runs Trump was hitting in real estate, Barron told me, he should be called a billionaire.
At the time, I suspected that some of this was untrue. I ran Trump’s assertions to the ground, and for many years I was proud of the fact that Forbes had called him on his distortions and based his net worth on what I thought was solid research.
But it took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had built to project an image as one of the richest people in America. Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later.
White House declined to comment for this story. The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
Continue Reading at The Washington Post.
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