Following a recent cover story reportedly exposing the Amazon CEO’s extramarital affair, Jeff Bezos has penned a stunning narrative in which he accuses the National Enquirer and its parent company of “extortion and blackmail” related to his response to the matter.
Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, has launched an investigation into tabloid.
In a blog entry posted to Medium on Thursday, the billionaire accused American Media Inc. and Enquirer owner David Pecker of attempting to extort him through a threat to release embarrassing photos if he did not revise the Post probe.
“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” he wrote.
In addition to quoting emails allegedly sent from AMI sources, Bezos also indicates that the threats revolved around his paper’s investigation into the Enquirer‘s motives. He seems to suggest that there could be a political motive for a tabloid reported to be a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, further noting that for “reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive note.”
It was unclear from the blog post what that angle might have been, but Bezos went on to say that days after hearing that Pecker was “apoplectic” about the report, a representative of AMI “verbally” offered a deal.
“They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation,” he wrote.
Bezos wrote that he picked Gavin de Becker to lead the investigation.
“I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know,” he wrote. “I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.”
Bezos further listed a series of demands AMI allegedly said must be met for the embarrassing content to be withheld from publication.
First, he wrote, was the “full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the ‘Bezos Parties’), on the other, may have against each other.”
The second point reportedly required a “public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgement from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.”
His attorneys are reportedly arguing that he owns any photos the Enquirer might possess since he took them, meaning the tabloid cannot legally publish the content.