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Bezos calls Trumps attacks on media 'dangerous'

14 September 2018

Many in the philanthropic sector say they're glad that the world's richest man was directing some of his largesse a little closer to home.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the launch of a new $2 billion charitable fund Thursday, focused on fighting homelessness and providing quality education. Previous to the creation of the Day One Fund, Bezos and his family had donated only $135 million to charities, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a nonprofit providing scholarships for the children of parents who immigrated the US illegally and most recently to a bi-partisan organization that gives campaign support to veterans running for political office.

"If our own great-grandchildren don't have lives better than ours, something has gone very wrong", Bezos wrote on Twitter announcing the fund.

"We'll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon", wrote Bezos.

Bezos, and Amazon, have been criticized in Seattle for not doing more to help the needy and have become focal points in the booming region's angry debate about traffic, housing prices and homelessness.

And US Senator Bernie Sanders has criticised working conditions in Amazon warehouses. After discussing the success of the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013, Rubinstein asked how Bezos responds to criticism - some of which comes from Trump's Twitter feed - of Amazon and the Post. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession.

The interview shed new details on Bezos's philanthropic push, which was devised with his wife MacKenzie and will include building and operating a network of "Montessori-like" preschools to help prevent low-income family children from falling behind in their education.

They call their project the "Bezos Day One Fund".

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Bezos solicited ideas on Twitter previous year for ways to donate some of his wealth.

He cited his work at his space company, Blue Origin, and his investment, estimated now at $1 billion a year, "in the future of our planet and civilization through the development of foundational space infrastructure".

But he paraphrased Washington Post editor Martin Baron as saying that "the adminstration may be at war with us, but we are not at war with the administration".

Demonising the media and calling them "the enemies of the people" is unsafe, Bezos said.

At the Economic Club discussion Thursday night, in response to a question from moderator David Rubenstein about President Trump's critical statements about The Post, Bezos said public officials shouldn't lash out at the news media.

Bezos hasn't said how much he'll be contributing to the fund in coming years. We're going to be obsessively, compulsively focused on the child.

"We will build an organisation to directly operate these schools".

Bezos, the wealthiest person on the planet, whose stake in Amazon is now worth about $160 billion, says he'll call it the Bezos Day One Fund.