In brief: A story involving blackmail, nude photos, the world’s richest man, and the US president sounds like the plot of a blockbuster movie. But as Jeff Bezos tells it, this isn’t the stuff of Hollywood. The Amazon CEO says he is being extorted and blackmailed by the National Enquirer tabloid, which is threatening to publish explicit photos of him and Lauren Sanchez.
In a lengthy Medium post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos points the finger at Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. (AMI) and its chief David Pecker. The billionaire presented emails from AMI executives that threaten to publish Bezos’ intimate text messages and photos, which include so-called d*ck pics. To avoid this embarrassment, he’s asked to publicly state that the Enquirer’s decision to print a story about his affair with Lauren Sanchez wasn’t “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
Bezos announced that he and his wife MacKenzie were divorcing last month. Soon after, the Enquirer published text messages revealing his relationship with former Fox News anchor Lauren Sanchez. This prompted Bezos to hire private security consultant Gavin de Becker “to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer.”
I’ve written a post about developments with the National Enquirer and its parent company, AMI. You can find it here: https://t.co/G1ykJAPPwy— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) 7 February 2019
“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,” Bezos wrote.
Pecker was apparently “apoplectic” about Bezos’ investigation into the source of the Enquirer’s article and AMI’s use of “catch and kill” tactics, which involves buying the exclusive rights to a story and making sure it never becomes news, usually as a favor to someone.
Bezos after submitting that Medium post. pic.twitter.com/tbBrMgNL8e— Harry Heymann (@harryh) February 7, 2019
Bezos notes that AMI recently entered into an immunity deal with the DoJ for using the method to kill a story about Donald Trump’s alleged affair with model Karen McDougal before his Presidential campaign by paying $150,000 for exclusivity.
“Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here: I will not report embarrassing information about you if you do X for me. And if you don’t do X quickly, I will report the embarrassing information,” wrote Bezos.