He also called Peter Thiel a contrarian, but doesn’t think Facebook should kick him off the board.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is not shy about his feelings toward Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump: He’s not a fan.
That doesn’t mean Bezos thinks a Trump presidency would be dangerous — “I think the United States is incredibly robust,” Bezos said — but he does see Trump’s behavior, especially toward the media, as a threat to our democracy.
“An appropriate thing for a Presidential candidate to do is say, ‘I am running for the highest office in the world. Please scrutinize me,” Bezos said Thursday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. “That’s not what we’ve seen. To try and chill the media and threaten retribution and retaliation, which is what he’s done in a number of cases, it just isn’t appropriate.”
“We have freedom of speech in this country, it’s written into the Constitution. There are a bunch of nations that have written constitutions that they don’t pay any attention to,” he continued. “It is inappropriate for a presidential candidate to erode that around the edges. They should be trying to burnish is instead of eroding it.”
This isn’t the first time Bezos has weighed in on Trump’s love-hate relationship with the media. At Recode’s annual Code Conference in May, he criticized Trump’s combative relationship with the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.
“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 at the time. “And we live in this amazing democracy, with amazing freedom of speech, and a presidential candidate should embrace that.”
Bezos was also asked Thursday about Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist and Facebook board member who took fire this week when he donated $1.25 million Trump’s political campaign. (He also spoke at the Republican convention.)
Bezos says he doesn’t agree with Thiel’s politics — “I have a dramatically different opinion,” he said — but added that he would not kick Thiel off Facebook’s board if he were in CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s position.
“Peter Thiel is a contrarian. You just have to remember, the contrarians are usually wrong,” he said. “[But] we don’t want to live in a country where you can’t associate with people who have wildly different political opinions from yourself. I want to live in a country where I can totally disagree with somebody’s politics but still work side by side with them. … It’s way too divisive to say, ‘If you have this political opinion you can’t sit on my board.’”