Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos revealed on Thursday that the National Enquirer is extorting him over nude photos. The owner of The Washington Post claimed that another publication threatened to publish photos of his genitals and tried to influence his public statements.
Bezos wrote about the extortion on Thursday, sharing the alleged extortion in a Medium post called “No thank you, Mr. Pecker.” In the text, Bezos detailed communications between the paper’s parent company — AMI, which is run by infamous Trump pal David Pecker — and himself about nude photos the Enquirer apparently has of Bezos.
A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we 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.
My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.
AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it’s usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves.
According to the New York Times, the exchanges began as a result of Bezos’ divorce and his public battles between he and Donald Trump.
The matter began last month when Mr. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced that they were getting divorced. The couple disclosed their separation just before The National Enquirer published an article exposing that Mr. Bezos was having an affair with Ms. Sanchez, a former television host who is also married.
In recent interviews, including with The Daily Beast and The Washington Post, Mr. Bezos’ private security consultant, Gavin de Becker, said he was investigating whether Ms. Sanchez’s brother, who has said he supports President Trump, may have been behind the leak for political reasons. Mr. Trump has long criticized Mr. Bezos, who owns The Post.
Bezos revealing the emails himself was a bold move, but one the Amazon founder felt was necessary given the extortion and what could have come of 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,” Bezos wrote. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out.”
By now it’s no secret that David Pecker and the National Enquirer have tried to use extortion and blackmail to go after Trump enemies and to protect the president from sex scandals erupting into the public eye. As part of a settlement with prosecutors in the Michael Cohen case, AMI essentially promised to be good boys and girls and said they would stop using extortion/blackmail tactics going forward. So it will be very interesting to see how the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York reacts to all of this.
Regardless of the legal consequences, perhaps the folks at AMI will learn a seemingly obvious lesson here: that it might not be a good idea to try to blackmail the world’s richest man.