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.