President Donald Trump went on yet another Twitter spree Wednesday morning, this time ending with a potentially confusing commentary on the Washington Post, Amazon, Internet taxes, and fake news:
How should you make sense of what the President is saying? Here’s a step-by-step breakdown and fact-check:
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million. But Bezos, now the world’s third-richest person, made the deal independent of Amazon — Amazon does not own the Post.
Still, ties between the two companies have steadily increased since the Bezos deal. Amazon Prime users can get a subscription to the Post at a discount, for instance.
“Guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes”
Trump has previously accused Bezos of using the Post to keep Amazon’s tax bill low:
It’s true that Amazon shoppers in many states once enjoyed tax-free purchases. But as of April, Amazon imposes a sales tax in every state where such a tax exists. That comes as Amazon has steadily increased its physical footprint across the country with warehouses and other facilities. Generally speaking, Amazon has to collect sales tax in any state where it has a real-life location.
Amazon itself has historically had a low corporate tax bill. But the company told Newsweek last year that’s largely because the firm rarely posts a sizable profit.
Either way, it’s unclear why Trump is linking Amazon’s tax policies with Bezos’ ownership of the Post. It’s also unclear what Trump means precisely by “Internet taxes.” Taxes on Internet access are banned by the Internet Tax Freedom Act, though that bill does not outlaw sales tax for online shopping.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that a March 1, 2009 TIME Magazine cover featuring Donald Trump hangs in at least four of the President’s golf clubs around the world. But a Time Inc. spokeswoman confirmed to the Post the cover is a fake, and the company has asked the Trump Organization to remove the photographs. (Fortune and TIME are both owned by Time Inc.) It’s possible Trump’s latest tweet is a response to the Post’s story on the matter.
Trump has criticized the Post in the past, as he has other media outlets. The newspaper has broken several major stories involving the Trump Administration, including details of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s conflicting reports of his conversation about Russian sanctions with a Russian Ambassador and news of Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating the President for possible obstruction of justice.
But Trump has also praised the Washington Post: