A documentary written by a Black conservative that focuses on race relations in the United States was rejected by Amazon because it fell short of the company’s “content quality expectations.”
Written by Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, “What Killed Michael Brown?” explores the 2014 police killing of the man in Ferguson, Missouri, and asks whether systemic racism exists or if it’s “more a strategy than a truth.”
A post on the film’s website has a screenshot of an email sent to the filmmakers from Amazon regarding a request to distribute the film on Amazon Prime.
“Unfortunately, we have found that your title doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations and is not eligible for publishing on the service at this time,” the email reads. The message added that the decision is final and that appealing is not an option.
Steele is a conservative author and filmmaker. A tweet from the film’s account said Amazon’s decision “will shock you.”
“It is now official. Amazon rejected ‘What Killed Michael Brown?’ from appearing on its platform,” the tweet reads. “When you see the film in all of its human complexity, compassion, intellectual spirit, this decision will shock you.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board published a piece Wednesday titled, “Amazon Cancels Shelby Steele,” in which it argued that Amazon is caving to “political pressure.”
“We’re skeptical of the many calls in Washington to break up large tech giants such as Amazon since that might do more economic harm than good,” the story reads. “But political pressure is building on the left, which dislikes Big Tech’s success and size; and on the right, which resents its leftward bias in suppressing cultural messages it doesn’t want people to hear.
“By canceling important dissenting voices like the Steeles on such a vital subject, Amazon is inviting a political backlash.”