Amazon CEO’s blog post comes after the tabloid last month reported Bezos was in a relationship with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez — having accessed private text messages
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of “blackmail” after it threatened to publish intimate photographs sent by the billionaire to his mistress if he did not cease an investigation into the newspaper’s alleged links with Saudi Arabia.
It comes after the tabloid last month reported Bezos was in a relationship with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez — having accessed private text messages.
Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, said the Enquirer made the blackmail threat after he began looking into how the tabloid acquired text messages that revealed his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor.
In a post on blogging platform Medium Thursday, Bezos said Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI), led by David Pecker, and approached him with a threat to publish the photos if he did not halt an investigation into the motives behind that leak.
He added the publication demanded he and security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publically state they had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
De Becker mentioned in a recent Daily Beast interview that “strong leads point to political motives” — and that he was interested in Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.
And in his Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker’s previous cooperation with Trump — including payments made to suppress negative stories, currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.
Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Trump’s signature Twitter tirades.
In a rare and revealing statement posted to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the Enquirer wanted him to make a false public statement to the news media that Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage [of the affair] was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
Bezos declined to do so.
Instead, Bezos published emails from Enquirer executives to a lawyer representing de Becker, including one in which top editor Dylan Howard appears to suggest that the Enquirer would publish revealing photos of Bezos and Sanchez.
“In the interests of expediating [sic] this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering,” Howard wrote. He added, “It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail – and quickly.”
Bezos went on to say that, “Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here,” Bezos wrote. “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?
“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 the post, which was entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” and included copies of emails from AMI.
“Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here,” he added.
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