News of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) being sold to Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)”s chief executive for $250 million shocked reporters who were present at 4:30 pm Monday when the announcement was made.
“I feel as if an old boyfriend – who was maddening but still had a piece of my heart – just got married,” one former Post journalist said. The news rapidly spread outside the headquarters of the Post, which is situated some blocks away from the White House and seems to have always owned by the Graham family.
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Bezos takeover signals the end of an era
Eugene Meyer bought the Post in 1933 when it was offered in a bankruptcy sale during the Great Depression. Meyer then passed it on to his son-in-law, Phillip Graham. After Phillip committed suicide, his wife Katherine Graham took the reins and propelled the newspaper to international fame during the 1970s for investigative work on the Watergate scandal, following which President Richard Nixon resigned.
The Graham family was the most influential family in the United State capital’s social scene for many years—they were on good terms with powerful politicians and policy makers, including the Kennedys and Reagans. The purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos marks the end of the Graham family’s era in the newspaper’s history.
Where will Bezos take it now?
It is not clear what direction the newspaper will follow and how will it be transformed under billionaire Bezos.
Bezos’ political views are not well known, which suggests that he will not use the Post as a medium to echo any particular ideology. However, he has apparently tilted towards Democrat colors, as gathered from his campaign donations, says a report from Financial Times. Bezos has not given any money to presidential candidates during the past two decades; but he has donated more to Democrats compared to Republicans. He also supported Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Democratic senators from Washington State.
In the past, Bezos has shown his support for same-sex marriages and internet sales tax policy. He held a meeting with President Barack Obama in the past, and President Obama visited one of the Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) plants in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he talked about a plan for corporate taxes and infrastructure spending.
According to analysts, the sale of the Post is in line with a trend of rich individuals acquiring newspapers from public companies struggling to monetize their potential. Bezos, an active philanthropist, holds an 18.9 percent stake in Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), which is worth $26 billion.