It’s been over two months since The New York Times published a lengthy and rather scathing report on what it’s like to work at Amazon. (Working at Amazon is soul-crushing, by the way.) But Amazon just can’t stop defending itself.
Star Amazon hire Jay Carney just published a blog post on Medium, detailing several instances of where the Times reporters didn’t tell the whole story. He leads with what’s surely the most intriguing aspect, namely the backstory behind the employee who provided the Times’s Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld with their marquee quote: “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” Bo Olson, the former Amazon employee who gave the quote, doesn’t sound like a very good person, at least according to Carney’s retelling of his “brief” time at Amazon. Carney claims:
Here’s what the story didn’t tell you about Mr. Olson: his 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.
Why weren’t readers given that information?
Carney, the former White House press secretary, kind of has a point here. If the Times’ star source actually lied to people and used fake records to cover it up, you could imagine that he’s maybe not to the most trustworthy former Amazon employee to talk to. But that doesn’t mean his quote is a lie! Still, Carney’s PR kung fu seems pretty effective at poking a few holes in the massive report.
There’s another, bigger problem, however. The stories in the Times piece were not isolated incidents or simply rants from disgruntled employees. In fact, we’ve been reporting for years that working at Amazon is a miserable way to live your life, while Gawker’s published a steady stream of personal accounts explaining how the company abuses its workforce.
Does this mean that the Times is right after all? It’s hard to tell how true to life their report is in the face of Amazon’s protest, but it’s even harder to get past the extent to which Amazon is doing serious and probably well-justified damage control. After all, it’s Jay Carney’s job to make Amazon look good, and Jay Carney has a strong history of doing his job well.
Just don’t let that obfuscate the actual and very well-documented history of Amazon being a terrible place to work. It could fill volumes.
Update: New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has posted a 1,300-word response to Carney’s allegations on Medium. He defends the paper’s reporting.
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