Amazon fires back at The New York Times

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is firing back at The New York Times following a recent story that painted a bleak picture of what it's like to work for the company.

Jay Carney, Amazon's senior VP of corporate affairs, posted a lengthy essay on The Medium blasting the newspaper's reporting and offering a different version of life at Amazon.

The NYT said it spent six months profiling 100 former Amazon employees who were punished for health crises or personal reasons, and subjected to a debilitating peer review process.

One employee, Bo Olson, described a workplace were countless employees cried at their desks.

Not true, said Carney:

"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."

Carney claims to have been in regular communication with the two reporters from The NYT, Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, throughout the reporting process. He said they never checked into the work history of their source—or of several others.

"In fact, Kantor never asked us to check or comment on any of the dozen or so negative anecdotes from named sources that form the narrative backbone of the story," Carney said.

"We worked with the lead reporter on the piece, Ms. Kantor, in the hope that she would provide a balanced portrait of Amazon's culture," he said. "I, and members of my team, had several background conversations with her, met with her twice in person, and arranged for a full day of interviews in Seattle with three leaders from different Amazon businesses. I also offered to go on the record myself.

"Through those conversations, we were repeatedly assured that this would be a nuanced story that dove into what makes Amazon an exciting and fun place to be, not just a demanding place to work."

According to Carney, Kantor expressly stated that the story would not be a collection of negative anecdotes. Since the story was published in mid-August, Amazon has presented the newspaper with supporting evidence and information reflecting their point of view, information that has not been published, Carney said.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has also written his own reply.

Dean Baquet, executive editor of The NYT, published his own account, defending the story, which to date has more than 5 million page views and is among The NYT's most-read pieces of the year.

The NYT story certainly presented Amazon in a negative light, one it can ill-afford headed into the holiday season as some shoppers make choices about where they buy based on more than a discount.

For more:
- Read Jay Carney's letter
- Read Dean Baquet's response
- Read The NYT coverage

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