Politics

Reporters Blast Bezos for Spending Millions on Sanctimonious Super Bowl Ad

People at The Washington Post and elsewhere argued the money could have gone toward journalists' salaries or benefits

Image Credit: Facebook, New England Patriots & JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

At least four employees of The Washington Post publicly rebuked their own outlet after the publication reportedly shelled out $5.25 million for an ad that aired on CBS during the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

The Post’s ad aired on Super Bowl LIII — a historic game that pitted the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams. The Patriots won a record sixth Super Bowl championship, which became the lowest-scoring Super Bowl face-off in history.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (pictured above left) became the first football player to win six Super Bowls.

The Post’s ad, narrated by actor Tom Hanks, warned that “democracy dies in darkness.” The Post adopted this new slogan a few months after President Donald Trump stunned the mainstream media with his Election Day victory in November 2016.

While the ad never mentioned Trump by name or showed his picture, it was clear the president, his “fake news” rhetoric and his “enemy of the people” designation were the ad’s targets.

The ad featured wartime events and emphasized the importance of reporters’ presence and their coverage. The Post also honored a few journalists who were slain on the job or who died because of their work — including The Post’s own Jamal Khashoggi.

Billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (pictured above right) also owns The Post.

Bezos touted the Super Bowl ad on Twitter on Sunday, writing, “Grateful for the journalists at the @washingtonpost and around the world who do the work, no matter the risk or dangers they face. #democracydiesindarkness #SuperBowlAd.”

But The Post’s self-important ad — and the tweet from Bezos himself — simply did not sit well with some of The Post’s own employees.

Reporters from The Washington Post and other outlets noted that the millions of dollars spent on the ad could have been used to hire more reporters after a string of massive layoffs from outlets like BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post.

Sarah Kaplan, a Washington Post reporter, retweeted Bezos, writing, “I’m really proud to work at a newspaper that does this vital work. But maybe next $10 million could go toward better health benefits, parental leave, equal pay, and more jobs for reporters?”

The Post’s Abigail Hauslohner tweeted, using shorthand within her message, “I am proud to report for @washingtonpost. I’ve been shot at while on the job, & I’ve run from airstrikes. I’ve been threatened [with] arrest. I’ve lost brilliant colleagues who were far less lucky. But we report bc it matters; bc an informed public makes informed decisions. I wish … however, that I didn’t have to give up my vacation & sick days & go wks w/out a salary in order to take leave w my infant daughter as I’m doing right now.”

Related: The Three Worst Ads That Ran During Super Bowl LIII

“Women reporters DO matter as much as male reporters, @JeffBezos,” she added. “But we need your support. We need paid parental leave … and we need equal pay. You can do it because it’s the right thing to do. Or you can do it because journalism matters. The truth matters. Journalists need to be able to do their best work. They shouldn’t have to choose btw work & family. @JeffBezos.”

Kaplan retweeted Hauslohner’s words, adding, “Read this thread … If @JeffBezos truly values ground-breaking, truth-seeking, risk-taking journalism, he ought to value journalists like @ahauslohner, who have given this work their all and are still being asked to sacrifice more.”

The Post’s Dan Zak retweeted Bezos, writing, “Now unfreeze our pensions, pay an equal wage, and strengthen maternity benefits.”

The Post’s Fredrick Kunkle tweeted, “The Post is now paying, say, $5M/30 seconds to tout journalistic freedom during one of the glitziest and — given the NFL’s knee-taking protests and concussions — more controversial sports events in our country. #superbowl #wapostrong.”

Reporters from other outlets criticized Bezos and The Post’s ad as well.

The Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz noted that “$5.25 million could pay for 10 journalists making $50,000 a year for 10 years.”

The Daily Mail’s David Martosko wrote, “For the price of running that ad just once, The Post could have hired a dozen reporters for four years.”

Rewire’s Katelyn Burns tweeted, “I missed the WaPo ad but wouldn’t have missed the 63 reporters they could have hired with that money.”

The Huffington Post’s Yashar Ali tweeted, “Nice WAPO ad … but it’s not gonna change one mind … not one. What would have changed minds is hiring 50 new reporters with that money.”

Check out more in the video below:

Join the Discussion

COMMENTS POLICY: We have no tolerance for messages of violence, racism, vulgarity, obscenity or other such discourteous behavior. Thank you for contributing to a respectful and useful online dialogue.