Bezos Says National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Intimate Photos

Bezos Says National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Intimate Photos

Bezos Says National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Intimate Photos

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has said the National Enquirer threatened to publish revealing photographs of him unless his private investigators backed off the United States tabloid.

After the explosive Medium post Thursday by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos blasting the National Enquirer and parent company AMI, as well as chairman and CEO David Pecker, the board (which includes Pecker) has issued a response. 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, who retained private security consultant Gavin de Becker for his investigation, said an "AMI leader" subsequently told him that David Pecker, the chief executive of AMI, was "apoplectic" about the investigation.

NEW YORK: The stunning extortion claims made by Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos against the Trump-friendly National Enquirer tabloid have spotlighted a fierce behind-the-scenes media feud, taking place in an ever more toxic USA political climate. "Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him", the company said. He said he was seeking "to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer".

Amazon's Jeff Bezos took to Medium on Thursday to describe an "extortion" and "blackmail" threat sent his way by American Media Inc. Bezos himself said that "there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter".

In its January 9 story, the Enquirer said reporters followed Bezos and Sanchez "across five states and 40,000 miles" and "tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and "quality time" in hidden love nests".

With the blog, Bezos says he's getting ahead of the story and exposing the "extortionate proposal" of AMI and its chief, the appropriately named Gavin Pecker.

The story reports that de Becker says he believes the Enquirer's reporting about Bezos was sparked by a "politically motivated" leak.

Bezos suggests AMI may have sought to damage his reputation on behalf of President Donald Trump because Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has published stories Trump dislikes. The federal lawyers agreed not to prosecute AMI in the campaign finance violation case related to Trump and Michael Cohen as a reward for AMI cooperating, Rachel Maddow explains in the video below.

The case highlights a politically-tinged feud between the Post owner and the supermarket tabloid, with Bezos asserting that he would not be intimidated. CNN Business has reached out to AMI for comment regarding Farrow's claim. "But is this the sort of case federal prosecutors would charge as extortion? No".

Given Pecker's longtime friendship with President Trump, the Enquirer's role in "catching and killing" stories to help Trump, and and Bezos's presence on Trump's enemies list, many commentators have speculated about a potential Trump connection in this case - but it is just speculation.

And American Media did not respond to a request for comment about whether law enforcement has been in touch.

The agreement with NY prosecutors required AMI to commit no further crimes for at least three years, but the company's alleged threat to Bezos could be interpreted as a breach, potentially opening it to prosecution. In exchange for a promise to not publish embarrassing photos obtained from his text messages, AMI's general counsel Jon Fine asked for Bezos and his lawyer for a statement "affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces". Or at least that's what the top people at the National Enquirer thought.

The disclosures are also likely to deepen the rift between Bezos and Trump, who claims that the tech entrepreneur is using the newspaper for his own purposes.

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