Jeff Bezos responds to National Enquirer 'blackmail' with blog post

Saturday, 09 Feb, 2019

On Thursday, Bezos published several emails that he and his security chief Gavin de Becker received from AMI officials, which he said were created to blackmail him into dropping an investigation he launched into how the National Enquirer got hold of intimate text messages and photos of him and Lauren Sanchez. Hours later, the National Enquirer published a story detailing an alleged affair between the billionaire and entertainment personality Lauren Sanchez, publishing pictures and text messages between the couple.

Bezos says he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by American Media.

AMI said that it had been "in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him" when the allegations were made, and that its board had "convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims". "Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government".

Farrow wrote and published a story in the New Yorker in April 2018 about David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of AMI, and his friendship with President Donald Trump, which said the tabloid bought and buried stories to help Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

"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", Bezos wrote in the blog post titled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker" published on Medium.

Since then, private investigators have been looking into how the Enquirer got the texts.

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'". They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn't stop our investigation.

The Washington Post publishes many articles critical of Trump, and the president has said the paper acts as Amazon's "chief lobbyist".

Bezos also suggested that the Washington Post's coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have motivated the National Enquirer's investigation.

A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Manhattan did not immediately comment on Bezos' assertion that AMI had committed extortion.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said however on Twitter he didn´t believe they would pursue the company.

In his blog post, Bezos said that "an AMI leader advised us" that Pecker was "apoplectic" about de Becker's investigation.

He maintained that the Enquirer demanded that he and his security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publicly state they had "no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI´s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces". AMI has reportedly explored business ties with Saudi Arabia and published a magazine previous year exclusively devoted to fawning coverage of Mohammed bin Salman, its crown prince, Bezos noted.

In June 2017, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski accused President Donald Trump of threatening them with a hit piece in the National Enquirer in order to gain more favorable coverage on him on their show "Morning Joe".

Fine and de Becker could not immediately be reached for comment.

A person familiar with the National Enquirer's operation told CNN Business that similar accusations of blackmail might come to light.

Mr Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen - who facilitated the hush money at the direction, he says, of Mr Trump - has already admitted violating campaign finance laws.