Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Claims He's Being Extorted by National Enquirer

Jeff Bexos Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Speaks At Air Force Association Air Space & Cyber Conference. , Bloomberg
Laurie Berry | 08 February, 2019, 08:11

In an unusual personal blog post titled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker", published on Medium, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused the owner of the tabloid the National Enquirer, David Pecker, and its parent company AMI, of "extortion and blackmail".

Mr Bezos' online post details a stunning and freaky clash between the world's richest man and the nation's biggest tabloid publisher.

The confrontation began last month when Mr Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced that they were getting divorced. That same day, the National Enquirer touted that it would publish alleged intimate text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, whom he was said to be dating.

A Washington Post reporter dropped a bombshell Thursday night: that investigators working for Jeff Bezos believe "a government entity" may have obtained his text messages, and rather than a phone hack, that this is how the National Enquirer got them.

Although Bezos didn't say so in his Medium post, it would appear that Becker found some incriminating information about AMI's activities.

According to the letters, in exchange for not publishing these photos, AMI's Deputy General Counsel, Jon Fine, wanted Bezos and his team to acknowledge that "they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility".

American Media Inc (AMI), the owner of the National Enquirer, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Bezos, who owns more than $120 billion in Amazon stock, said in his blog: "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"

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The Post reported that Michael Sanchez said he was told by multiple people at AMI that the Enquirer set out to do "a takedown to make Trump happy".

Bezos copy and pasted an email allegedly from Dylan Howard, AMI's COO, days after that initial threat was made, which claims that they have obtained nine lewd photos of Bezos and Sanchez in addition to a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a 'd*ck pick'".

"Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks and corruption", Mr Bezos wrote of AMI, explaining why he had chose to speak out. The company has been cooperating with investigators in the Southern District of NY ever since it admitted to making a $150,000 "catch-and-kill" payment to rid of a story about an alleged affair Trump had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Pecker is now cooperating with federal investigators who are looking into the company's involvement with the Trump campaign.

AMI's chief executive, David Pecker, has had a long friendship with President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Bezos, Amazon and The Washington Post. In the next sentence, Bezos describes the non-prosecution agreement struck in September between AMI and the Justice Department.

In one e-mail that Mr Bezos disclosed, Mr Howard wrote that The Enquirer had obtained photos of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez as part of its "news-gathering".

"It shows how complicated and unsafe it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer", Levenson said.

In his post on Medium, Bezos called his ownership of The Post "a complexifier" for him.

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