Amazon Fires Back at 'NYT' Expose

Amazon is still smarting from the brutal exposé published by The New York Times in August, titled “Inside Amazon.” It detailed the alleged miseries of the Amazonian workplace -- and now the e-commerce juggernaut is firing back with an equally scathing critique of the NYTpiece, rebutting many of the key points and calling into question the validity of the most damning charges.

The blog post by Jay Carney, a former White House spokesman who now serves as the head of Amazon’s corporate communications, launches a frontal assault on the NYT story.

He takes on the most memorable quote in the article, from former employee named Bo Olson, who painted a picture of a nightmarish work dystopia with a single sentence: “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

The quote was obviously too juicy not to use, but Carney points out there’s one little problem with the source. According to Carney, Olson’s “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 notes a number of other problems with the story.

Another former employee who claimed to be “strafed” by the company’s internal personal review platform only received three messages on it over her entire tenure -- and they were mostly positive. The NYT story also left many less careful readers with the impression that the review platform was anonymous, allowing people to stab each other in the back through Stasi-esque informing.

In fact, the platform is not anonymous, as the NYT reporters noted far down in the story.

In yet another example, Carney noted that former employee Dina Vaccari, who talked to the NYT about working four days straight, posted her own response to the story: “Allow me to be clear: The hours I put in at Amazon were my choice. I was enrolled in the University of Washington’s Foster Technology MBA program while I was in charge of building three new Amazon retail categories and going through an emotional breakup, when I didn’t sleep for those four days. No one ever forced me to do this -- I chose it and it sucked at the time, but in no way was I asked or forced by management to do this.”

Again, none of this necessarily proves that the allegations in the story aren’t true -- but considering how much of it was based on anecdotal evidence, it  offers some reason to wonder.

4 comments about "Amazon Fires Back at 'NYT' Expose".
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  1. William Hoelzel from JWB Associates, October 19, 2015 at 2:18 p.m.

    The New York Times story by itself isn't enought to indict Amazon.

    But take a look at this Mother Jones' story about warehouse life.

    It all adds up, over time . . . .  Amazon sounds like a tough place to work.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 19, 2015 at 3:16 p.m.

    I'd suggest that before the author writes about the poor journalism of others, while using terms such as "But in journalism...", which suggests that said author has enough background in the subject to admonish others, he or she should reconsider writing something like "the fact that Olson was caught...." 

    The "fact"?  When and how did that allegation become a fact?  Was he charged and convicted?  Has the author confirmed this "fact"? 

    Looks like sloppy journalism is viral.  (I've already proven that sloppy grammar is, too)

  3. Erik Sass from none, October 19, 2015 at 4:31 p.m.

    Point humbly taken. I have removed that paragraph and will try to be more careful in future.

  4. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 20, 2015 at 6:08 p.m.

    Thanks, and I apologize for being so harsh and snarky.

    (And if any of my old Journalism instructors are reading this, I offer it as evidence - but not proof - that I didn't sleep through EVERY lecture.)

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