New York Times Fires Back at Amazon’s Scathing Rebuttal of Workplace Takedown

Editor Dean Baquet disputed Amazon’s rebuttal, arguing that it didn’t “contradict what the former employees said in our story”

Last Updated: October 19, 2015 @ 10:54 AM

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet fired back on Monday at a scathing rebuttal penned by Amazon senior VP and former U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney that contested the paper’s August story on Amazon’s “bruising” workplace.

Baquet opened his response by restating his support for reporter Jodi Kantor’s piece: “Our reporters spoke to more than a hundred current and former employees, at various levels and divisions, over many months,” he wrote.

“Many, including most of those you cited, talked about how they admired Amazon’s ambitions and urgency even as they described aspects of the workplace as troubling,” he continued.

Baquet said patterns emerged through interviews with current and former employees as well as outsiders who regularly deal with Amazon — recruiters, tech firms, employment lawyers – who all shared similar accounts of an Amazon that’s hostile to its employees.

As Baquet pointed out, many of those outsiders shared negative accounts of Amazon in the Times’ comments section linked to the story. As TheWrap reported, the Amazon story became the most commented-on article in Times history.

He went point by point, responding to Amazon’s rebuttal, which mentioned four specific employees the Times quoted in its story.

One of them, Bo Olson, resigned after admitting to fraud, Amazon claimed on Monday. Olson denied that claim on Monday to the Times.

“He said he was never confronted with allegations of personally fraudulent conduct or falsifying records, nor did he admit to that,” Baquet wrote. “If there were criminal charges against him, or some formal accusation of wrongdoing, we would certainly consider that. If we had known his status was contested, we would have said so.”

Baquet also defended reporter Jodi Kantor, whom Amazon executives claim misled them about her intentions to write a more positive story.

After reading Kantor’s communications with Amazon, Baquet came away with the impression she was direct and honest about the fact that the story would include Amazon’s “reputation as a difficult place to work, social cohesion, complaints of a culture of criticism and other worker concerns that were emerging from the reporting.”

Read Baquet’s full response here.

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