Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in a lengthy post on his medium page has accused National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail.”
“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” he said in the post.
National Enquirer, whose mother company is American Media Inc. (AMI), had published the story of Bezos’ affair with TV host Lauren Sanchez, shortly after the tech entrepreneur and his wife announced they were getting a divorce.
The National Enquirer story, filled with paparazzi photos of Bezos and Sanchez, added that the affair was the reason for Bezos and his wife’s divorce.
Bezos, in his post, said that AMI and its owner David Pecker, a former associate of Donald Trump, is being suspected to use the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons.
AMI had recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the payment of hush money to people who had sexual affairs with Trump, Bezos said.
Providing a bit of context, Bezos said:
My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.
President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggiis undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.
Bezos said a few weeks ago, intimate texts from him were published by the Enquirer and he put a team on investigators led by his security chief Gavin de Becker “to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer.”
Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.
A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.
My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.
He went on to publish the mail he received from AMI, detailing the kinds of photos they have of him and Sanchez, including a “below-the-belt selfie” of him.
Bezos continued: “In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’”
Bezos concluded his post, writing:
These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.
Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images