Local News Stations Run Propaganda COVID Segment Produced By Amazon’s PR Team
Vice reports that across the United States, at least 11 local news stations have run nearly identical segments using script and footage provided by Amazon to cover its role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 25, ABC KOCO 5 News anchor and reporter Zach Rael tweeted a screenshot depicting part of what he called a “pre-edited story” that Amazon’s public relations team had emailed to him.
Rael wrote, “They are selling this as giving our viewers an “inside look” at the company’s response to COVID-19. No. Let us go inside a fulfillment centers [sic] with our own cameras.”
Vice describes the script and video as “a fawning picture of Amazon, which has struggled to deliver essential items during the pandemic, support the sellers that rely on its platform, and provide its workers with the necessary protective equipment.”
The video is also available on Business Wire as part of an Amazon press release.
The script reads as follows:
Millions of Americans staying at home are relying on amazon to deliver essentials like groceries and cleaning products during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For the first time we're getting a glimpse *inside* Amazon's fulfillment centers to see just how the company is keeping its employees safe and healthy. While delivering packages to your doorstep.
Todd Walker takes us inside.
Following this, the script calls for stations to air a clip provided by Amazon with voiceover from Todd Walker. According to his LinkedIn page, Walker works as a “PR manager” for Amazon.
Amazon spokesperson Alyssa Bronikowski defended the video and told Vice,
We welcome reporters into our buildings, and it’s misleading to suggest otherwise… [the] video was created to share an inside look into the health and safety measures we’ve rolled out in our buildings and was intended for reporters who for a variety of reasons weren’t able to come tour one of our sites themselves.
Bronikowski also said that the segment was not a promotional video and that no one who participated in it was paid. Vice writes, “Whether this includes Walker, the Amazon PR manager, is unclear.”
Meanwhile, news website COURIER suggested a less generous motive for Amazon.
Amazon is taking proactive action ahead of Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting—at which investors plan on demanding the company address worker safety issues after at least eight warehouse employees have died of COVID-19.