Almost a month after the National Enquirer published a story about Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos' relationship with TV host Lauren Sanchez, Bezos has accused the outlet, its owner AMI and leader David Pecker of blackmail.
On Thursday, Bezos wrote that he began investigating the tabloid after it published a story, complete with text messages, that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Mr Bezos, 55, hired investigators to find out how the texts were obtained and whether the story was politically motivated. If he declined, AMI threatened to publish compromising photos of Bezos and Sanchez.
Bezos says the Enquirer's parent company tried to get him to agree to a deal for the tabloid not to publish the explicit photos.
"(W) ith The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer's initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering". "I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly".
'Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here. Like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet, who was forced to do a post about how people are trying to leak his nudes. As chairman of American Media Inc., Pecker played a part in making the payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of which prosecutors believe may have violated campaign finance law, according to The New York Times. In the blog, Bezos said that the tabloid had published "intimate text messages from me".
In addition to founding the world's largest e-commerce site, Bezos, is also the owner and benefactor of The Washington Post. The tech magnate also said that AMI's ties to President Donald Trump suggest that the publisher has political motivations.
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In an email dated February 5, 2019, Jon Fine, the deputy general counsel of AMI, defends the Enquirer's reporting on Bezos' impending divorce, including the publication of "private photographs", and criticizes "continuing defamatory activities" by Bezos.
Fine and other AMI executives did not return a request for comment.
Bezos said he chose to publish the emails sent to his team "rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail", despite the "personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".
"AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called "Catch and Kill" process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign". 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.
In January, Bezos announced his plans to divorce his longtime wife MacKenzie Bezos.
De Becker proceeded to tell media that the leak was politically motivated, which, according to Bezos's blog post Thursday, concerned AMI. "It's a shocking and frightening thing Mr. Bezos has revealed".
He added, "At an extreme level, this shows how frightening it should be to the citizens of the United States that the National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States".