Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
President Donald Trump has joined streaming service Twitch as part of his re-election strategy. Twitch is owned by Amazon, the company led by Jeff Bezos — and both Amazon and Bezos are frequent targets for Trump’s displeasure.
It appears Trump recently joined Twitch, and has just over 135 followers at the time of this writing. He isn’t currently live streaming, nor is it likely that he’s about to jump into a game of Fortnite. Instead, his channel features a prominent message reminding viewers of his rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota happening tonight. There’s also a button further down the page that encourages supporters to donate to his campaign.
Trump isn’t the first political candidate to use Twitch in an effort to connect more directly with voters. Bernie Sanders, for instance, is also using the service. Trump, however, has a history of denigrating the company’s owner, Amazon.
Back when he was running for president in 2016, he condemned Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post, citing the purchase as an opportunity for Amazon to receive positive coverage. An important distinction to make is that Amazon doesn’t own The Post; a holding company started by Bezos called Nash Holdings bought the Post in 2013 for $250 million. Still, Trump argued that Bezos, who owns both Amazon and Nash Holdings, bought The Post so that “Amazon will benefit from it.”
“If I become president, oh do they have problems,” Trump said at a Texas event in February 2016. “They’re going to have such problems.”
Trump, however, has a history of denigrating the company’s owner, Amazon
Trump’s campaign against Amazon didn’t end in February 2016. He frequently refers to The Washington Post as “The Amazon Washington Post” in tweets criticizing the company. Trump gave an interview to Fox’s Sean Hannity in 2016, conflating The Post’s editorial standards with Amazon’s business, calling out Bezos for using The Post as a “toy.”
“Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise,” Trump said. “He’s using The Washington Post for power. So that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed… and what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing. And he’s using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people. And I’ll tell you what: We can’t let him get away with it.”
It doesn’t end with The Washington Post, either. Just this August, Trump via the White House ordered the Department of Defense to look into and reexamine a $10 billion contract regarding cloud computing “because of concerns that the deal would go to Amazon,” according to The Post. Trump even argued that Amazon was taking advantage of the United States’ Postal service by using a low-rates system. Amazon, Trump said, “should pay these costs (plus) and not have them borne by the American Taxpayer.”
So Trump really, really doesn’t like Amazon. But unlike The Washington Post, which isn’t owned by Amazon, Twitch is. Amazon bought the streaming company for $1 billion in 2014, and has been involved in the business ever since. Again, Trump isn’t the only politician on Twitch who has issues with Amazon — Sanders has made it clear where he stands on the company’s overarching power in various American industries — but few politicians have gone on a tirade against the company like Trump has.
By logging on to Twitch, Trump appears to have conceded something significant: if he wants to connect with his supporters, he’s going to have to play by Jeff Bezos’ rules, on Jeff Bezos’ platform.