Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion
Emails show tabloid threatening to publish ‘dick pic’ from Amazon chief
Billionaire Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has accused an American tabloid newspaper of blackmail and extortion, over the publication of private texts and intimate images.
Bezos claims that American Media Inc (AMI), which publishes the National Enquirer, and its chief executive David Pecker threatened to publish the text messages and images if Bezos didn’t halt an investigation into how AMI obtained the material, CNN reports.
Bezos also claimed that earlier reporting of his private life by the tabloid was “politically motivated”, due to his ownership of the Washington Post, which has published a series of articles critical of Pecker, and Donald Trump, who counts Pecker as a close ally.
In a lengthy blog post on Medium, Bezos said that the National Enquirer’s chief content officer Dylan Howard wrote to him, outlining what the images contained, including one that Howard described as a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’”.
The Washington Post reports that the text messages “revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez”. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie announced last month they were getting divorced.
“It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly,” the email read.
“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,” Bezos wrote.
A lawyer for AMI, Jon Fine, later proposed that Bezos release a “mutually agreed upon statement to a news outlet saying that he had no basis for suggesting AMI’s coverage was politically motivated” in exchange for not publishing the messages and images, Bloomberg reports.