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Amazon and Jeff Bezos getting the 'Frontline' treatment

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PBS’ acclaimed investigative journalism series “Frontline” is putting Jeff Bezos under the harsh glare of the spotlight and examine how Amazon is reshaping commerce, work and technology. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. Est, PBS local stations will broadcast “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos,” which investigates how Bezos built a business empire that is “unprecedented in the history of American capitalism,” according to PBS. The two-hour documentary will look at Amazon’s ascent and ask tough questions about the consequences, added PBS. 

Part of “Amazon Empire” will focus on working conditions in the company’s expansive fulfillment network. “Frontline” speaks with former employees at the Amazon centers who describe intense working conditions, and who say they struggled to keep up with the rate at which Amazon expected them to pick and pack items.

The documentary also draws on nearly 20 interviews with current and former Amazon executives and employees, including Jeff Wilke, who created the Amazon fulfillment center system. Wilke defends the company’s treatment of workers and its commitment to safety.

“Amazon Empire” also investigates how Bezos executed a plan to build one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world, according to PBS, and raises questions about power, privacy and product safety that have accompanied Amazon’s rise.

Speaking at a PBS press conference at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January, “Amazon Empire” producer James Jacoby said the show will take stock of where Amazon is now. Jacoby is the director of 2018 “Frontline” film “The Facebook Dilemma.

The special also examines the course of Bezos’s career from the mid-1990s to the present.

“You certainly do see a physical transformation, and you also do see his cultivation of this very goofy, affable image from early on,” Jacoby said. “And some of his early employees talk to us about how that belied a sort of his Napoleonic ambition.”

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