When asked how he would respond to threats from Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos invoked the steeliness of the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in the heat of its coverage of the Watergate scandal.
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Bezos, who has succeeded the Graham family as the newspaper's owner, said Trump should expect — and welcome — press scrutiny as he seeks the White House. The Seattle billionaire says he's won't cave to pressure from the Republican party's presumptive presidential nominee, who has repeatedly criticized the Washington Post's coverage of his candidacy.
"The only thing I would say, with Katie Graham as my role model, is I'm very glad to have any of my body parts go through a big fat wringer, if need be," Bezos said in remarks Tuesday on the opening day of the Code Conference at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
That's a reference to one of the most famous threats in American journalism. Richard Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, warned reporter Carl Bernstein that his reporting of the growing Watergate scandal would have consequences: "Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published."
Bezos says that Trump's press-bashing could cast a pall on free speech.
"It's just a fact that we live in a world where half the population on this planet, if you criticize your leader, you could go to jail or worse," Bezos said. "And we live in this amazing democracy, with amazing freedom of speech, and a presidential candidate should embrace that."
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