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Why is Donald Trump threatening Amazon and Jeff Bezos?

The leading Republican candidate for US president didn't stop at calling for a boycott of Apple. Now he's coming for the shopping mall of the Internet too.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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Eric Mack
2 min read

If Donald Trump had his way, he'd happily light all those Kindle Fires and Fire TVs on fire. The front-running Republican candidate for the US presidency promises to take aim at Amazon, its founder Jeff Bezos and the entire media, if elected.

"I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence, and I gotta tell you, we have a different country than we used to have," Trump said during a speech in Texas on Friday (see clip below). "He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems."

Trump seems to be taking aim at Bezos because he's upset with The Washington Post's coverage of his campaign, which he called "unfair," going on to say that he would use libel laws to go after the press in the courts. (He also mentioned The New York Times.)

"When they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money," he said later in the same speech.

But for much of the past year, Trump has been widely critical of the entire mainstream media, of which The Washington Post is just one outlet (and with a smaller audience than others). So why all the focused ire from the candidate?

Trump's feud with the Post, Bezos and Amazon seemed to have come out of nowhere in December when the Republican candidate began tweeting fire at both, claiming that Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post was meant to use the struggling paper as a way of lowering Amazon's tax bill.

Just a quick bit of fact-checking -- The Washington Post isn't owned by Amazon, it's owned by a personal investment firm that Bezos controls, so its losses don't help Amazon's tax bill. But it's possible that the situation helps Bezos' personal income tax rate. Also, Amazon actually has been profitable of late, but perhaps Trump is in-artfully referencing the fact that the company's most recent profit, $482 million in the last quarter of 2015, is just a tiny fraction of its $35.7 billion in revenues (PDF), but I digress.

Bezos was quick to respond to Trump's tweet-bombs with a passive-aggressive offer of a free trip...to orbit, via another of Bezos' companies, rocket-maker Blue Origin.

But all that was months ago. What's got Trump's ire up at Amazon now? Perhaps he heard the reports that Amazon's (recommended) series "Mad Dogs" considered having its murderer wear a Trump mask?

Trump isn't yet so disgusted with Amazon that he's pulled the dozens of book titles that are sold on the site under his name, however.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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