President Trump is known for his controversial tweeting habit, sporadically sending out a series of tirades of 140 characters or less. The most recent subject of Trump’s social media attacks is Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post.
Last week, Trump released six different tweets accusing Amazon of tax fraud, forcing the shutdown of private retailers and abusing the US Post Office. Trump also called The Washington Post a lobbyist platform for Bezos’ personal agenda and an unreliable source of news.
“I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy,” Trump tweeted. “Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer.”
Associate Professor of Management at Palm Beach Atlantic University Lane Cohee said the problems Trump is calling attention are issues with laws, not with Amazon as an individual business.
“That’s not Amazon’s fault, Amazon’s playing by the rules,” Cohee said. “They’re taking advantage of the way the mandated fixed cost allocation structure is, but the government is going to have to take a look at that.”
While it is true that Amazon does pay taxes required of all businesses, some have criticized the company for taking advantage of an exemption which excludes items sold by some third-party vendors from being subject to taxes.
“That’s a loophole probably that is going to get closed,” Cohee said.
But Cohee did acknowledge the legitimacy of Trump’s concerns for brick and mortar businesses and the possibility that Amazon may be on its way to becoming a monopoly.
“Those are always concerns when you have huge fast-growing companies like Amazon,” Cohee said.
Trump added to his criticism of the company by suggesting that Bezos uses his ownership of The Washington Post to influence readers in favor of Amazon.
“Amazon is just not an even playing field,” Trump tweeted. “They have a tremendous lobbying effort, in addition to having The Washington Post.”
Trump has also frequently criticized the newspaper as a purveyor of “fake news.”
“The Washington Post is far more fiction that fact,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “Story after story is made up of garbage.”
PBA business student Corrine Schreiner is one of many college students who rely on Amazon for a variety of purchases.
“I like it because of the convenience,” Schreiner said. “You can order online and have it within two days.”
Schreiner does not approve of Trump’s use of Twitter to voice his dissatisfaction with a private company.
“Amazon is such a huge player in the US economy that it’s just bad for business,” Schreiner said. “It’s bad for America.”
But this is not the first time that Trump and Bezos have found themselves at odds with each other. In fact, Trump was making these same accusations as early as 2015.
While Bezos responded to Trump’s twitter allegations against his business in previous years, this time Bezos is determined to ignore the accusations.
Washington Post senior editor Marc Fisher attributed the president’s hostility as a “jealous” response to Bezos’ spot at the top of Forbes’ recently released list of richest people in the world.
But while Bezos is ignoring Trump’s accusations, investors are not. Over the course of the two days after Trump’s initial tweet of his most recent arguments against Amazon on March 29, the company’s stock market share dropped eight percent.
Cohee calls the temporary drop in the share a natural reaction to Trump’s criticisms.
“There is always nervousness in the financial markets whenever you have a United States President call out a single business,” Cohee said. “It’s unusual.”
But Amazon’s share has now risen back to where it was before the tweets and Cohee is not concerned about any lasting damage to Amazon’s reputation.
“I don’t think that over the long-term you are going to see any significant change in terms of Amazon’s trajectory, their business model or their business growth,” Cohee said.