Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has accused the National Enquirer of blackmail and extortion, alleging the publication threatened to publish private pictures of him unless he backed away from an investigation into its coverage.
The billionaire published a Medium post today which includes the correspondence between his lawyers and AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, that includes a threat to publish sexual pictures and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
In exchange for not publishing the pictures, AMI asked Bezos to release a public statement “affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
The National Enquirer first detailed Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez, which included intimate text messages, last month. In response Bezos directed his security chief Gavin De Becker to investigate how The National Enquirer obtained the texts and if its coverage was politically motivated by his ownership of The Washington Post.
AMI has been caught up in the investigation of President Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Bezos and The Washington Post, telling prosecutors they worked with Trump’s presidential campaign to pay a Playboy model $150,000 in hush money.
Bezos wrote that AMI informed him David Pecker, the CEO of AMI, was “apoplectic” about the investigation. That communication was followed by a threat to release images of Bezos including a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” if he didn’t tell the press he “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
The world’s richest man explained his decision to publish the emails. “Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”
“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.”
You can read the full post here. Amazon shares are down 1.6 per cent.