Updated below with American Media Inc. statement.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has published a remarkable new response in his ongoing feud with the National Enquirer, accusing the publication and its parent company American Media Inc. of extortion just weeks after it exposed his alleged relationship with a woman outside of his marriage.
In his first ever post on Medium, titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” on Thursday, Bezos said something “unusual” happened to him yesterday, when he was confronted by representatives from the tabloid. The Enquirer was seeking to get Bezos to call off an independent investigation he had launched, which was reported on by The Washington Post, into how the tabloid gained access to his private text messages with Lauren Sanchez, the woman he has allegedly been seeing.
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) February 7, 2019
Bezos said Enquirer owner AMI, led by David Pecker, approached him and said they had more of his text messages and photos that they would publish if Bezos did not stop an investigation led by Gavin de Becker.
“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal,” Bezos wrote. “They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.'”
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.
Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below.
Bezos said the communications, which provide explicit descriptions of photos allegedly obtained by the Enquirer, “cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism.
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published,” Bezos added. “But I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
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.
Here are details from a Feb. 5 email shared by Bezos on Medium, in which Howard Dylan, chief content officer at AMI, reaches out to Martin Singer, litigation counsel for de Becker. The subject line was “Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos”:
In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:
· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
· Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.
· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.
· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.
· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.
· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.
It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.
Bezos announced on Jan. 9 that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, decided to divorce after 25 years of marriage. In the days after that announcement, the Enquirer published an exclusive cover story with images detailing what it called “the cheating photos that ended his marriage.”
The Washington Post, which Bezos acquired in 2013, reported this week on de Becker’s investigation and his theory around how Bezos’s text messages ended up in the hands of the tabloid. De Becker’s leading theory is that the couple wasn’t hacked. Instead, he believes the text messages were leaked in a politically motivated attack on the Amazon founder.
Update: Friday, Feb 8, 6:20 a.m. PT: American Media Inc. issued a statement Friday morning in response to the allegations by Bezos:
“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him. Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”