FedEx CEO calls for debate over ‘distorted’ New York Times article

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The New York Times defended its reporting Monday after FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith issued a challenge to the newspaper over what the company called a "distorted" and "factually incorrect story" on Sunday.

In the article which appeared in The New York Times on Sunday, the news outlet noted that Smith, who pushed for the tax cuts, made a comment in an August 2017 interview that if the government made "the United States a better place to invest, there is no question in my mind that we would see a renaissance of capital investment."

They then blasted the Memphis-based company saying FedEx hadn't invested an appropriate amount after receiving those tax cuts from the Trump administration.

A FedEx spokesperson defended the company telling The New York Times that it had to look at more than just the company's capital spending.

“FedEx invested billions in capital items eligible for accelerated depreciation and made large contributions to our employee pension plans,” the company said in a statement. “These factors have temporarily lowered our federal income tax, which was the law’s intention to help grow G.D.P., create jobs and increase wages.”

The same day the article was published, Smith released his own statement challenging the New York Times to a public debate, with the focus being on "federal tax policy and the relative societal benefits of business investments and the enormous intended benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wager earners."

He also hit back at the New York Times, saying the company paid zero federal income tax in 2017 and only $30 million in 2018.

"Also in 2018, the New York Times cut their capital investments nearly in half to $57 million, which equates to a rounding error when compared to the $6 billion of capital that FedEx invested in the U.S. economy during that same year."

Smith ended the statement by saying, "I look forward to promptly hearing from Mr. Sulzberger and scheduling this open event to bring further public awareness of the facts related to these important issues."

Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, defended the newspaper's reporting in a statement on Monday.

"FedEx’s colorful response does not challenge a single fact in our story. We’re confident in the accuracy of our reporting ... FedEx’s invitation is clearly a stunt and an effort to distract from the findings of our story."

On Twitter, Rep. David Kustoff (R-Memphis) slammed the New York Times, saying the newspaper distorted facts to fit their narrative. Kustoff said the economy is soaring thanks to President Trump's tax cuts, and he applauded Smith.

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