Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of Blackmail, Extortion

Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of Blackmail, Extortion

'Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in [AMI's] well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,' Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos writes in an extraordinary blog post.

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos today accused AMI, which own the National Enquirer, of blackmail and extortion.

According to Bezos, American Media Inc. executives demanded that Bezos call off an investigation into how the National Enquirer obtained salacious text messages between Bezos and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez. If he declined, AMI threatened to publish compromising photos of Bezos and Sanchez.

"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," Bezos wrote in an extraordinary blog post he published on Medium, which includes what he says is the text of emails from AMI execs spelling out their demands.

The whole story is bizarre, and at first glance appears like just the sort of thing a tabloid like the National Enquirer would consider front-page news. But when one of the world's richest men and top tech CEOs alleges politically motivated blackmail, it becomes more than just a juicy gossip item.

According to Bezos, in addition to calling off his investigation, AMI wanted Bezos to publicly declare that Amazon had "no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces." Bezos refused; "legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time," he writes.

Bezos suggests AMI may have sought to damage his reputation on behalf of President Donald Trump because Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has published stories Trump dislikes.

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"It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy," Amazon's CEO writes. "President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets."

Thus far, Trump has not tweeted about Bezos' blog post. He did, however, post something after the initial National Enquirer story posted last month, calling Bezos "Jeff Bozo" and arguing that the tabloid was a more accurate source of news than the Washington Post.

So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019

AMI chief David Pecker is a friend of Trump's, and as Bezos notes, Pecker was granted immunity for his cooperation in a federal probe of Trump's payments to women who claim they had an affair with the president prior to his election. The National Enquirer has long engaged in a practice known as "catch and release," where they'll pay someone for the rights to their story but then never run it.

"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," Bezos says.

"Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"

In response to the allegations, AMI said it acted lawfully while reporting on Bezos and his affair. "Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him," the company claimed in an emailed statement.

"Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary," AMI added.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with AMI's statement.

Source: PCMag.com — Read: Original Article

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