Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos on Thursday accused American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer, of blackmailing him over a series of revealing photos the tabloid allegedly obtained.
In a post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos claims a lawyer for the National Enquirer emailed his legal counsel with a threat to post sexual pictures he had sent via text to his girlfriend, news anchor and reporter Lauren Sanchez, including a picture of his privates.
“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what [American Media Inc. (AMI)] sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote in a lengthy Medium post.
Bezos accused AMI of blackmail and extortion, claiming that the publisher asked him to publicly deny any political motivation in the publisher’s coverage of his divorce in exchange for not publishing the photos.
The Hill reports:
The exchange came not long after the Enquirer had published text messages shared between Bezos and his mistress, which led Bezos to commission an investigation into how the tabloid acquired them.
According to Bezos, news of the investigation infuriated AMI chief David Pecker, whose close ties to President Trump have led to scrutiny over his role in the hush-money payments between Trump’s team and multiple women. Bezos also suggested in his blog post that the Washington Post’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has upset Pecker.
Bezos said he and his lawyer “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.”
The Verge adds:
AMI allegedly approached Bezos after learning he had been conducting a private investigation into how it obtained his text messages, and tried to persuade him into shutting the investigation down because of the likelihood it may lead to more damning revelations about AMI’s “catch and kill” tactics and its political ties to Trump and other world leaders, Bezos claims in the Medium post. “If your client agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior, we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession,” read one of the emails sent to the legal team of Bezos’ private investigation.
Here’s the full, seven-point extortion attempt emailed to Bezos from Jon Fine, AMI’s deputy legal counsel:
From: Howard, Dylan [[email protected]] (Chief Content Officer, AMI)
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM
To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker)
Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos
CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBIUTION
I am leaving the office for the night. I will be available on my cell — 917 XXX-XXXX.
However, in the interests of expediating 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.
In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick'” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:
· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
· Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.
· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.
· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.
· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.
· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.
It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.