Yep, you read the headline right. Per a personal blog post that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plublished on Medium, the head of the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, is threatening to publish nude photos of him.
As interesting as that is on its own, the background behind it is even more revealing.
On January 21, 2019, the National Enquirer shared text messages between Bezos and reporter Lauren Sanchez that revealed the affair Bezos had before ultimately separating with his wife. Following these texts being shared, Bezos says:
I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquierer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.
In addition to the damaging texts, Bezos also chose to begin the investigation to learn more about America Media’s involvement with “catch and kill” tactics. This is essentially the practice of finding incriminating texts/photos and then purposefully stopping them from making a public news story. Most notably, it was discovered AMI paid $150,000 to kill a story during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign about an affair Trump previously had.
AMI head, David Pecker, apparently wasn’t too keen about Bezos digging into the company. As such, Pecker blackmailed Bezos with the threat to release nude photos of him. In one email sent to Bezos’ legal team.
If your client agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior, we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession.
What does American Media want in return? Per the email that American Media sent to Bezos:
A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment 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.
That political tie-in is in connection with American Media’s involvement with Donald Trump. Pecker thinks Bezos is getting too curious about things, and seeing as how Bezos owns The Washington Post, doesn’t want a story to come out there highlighting American Media’s practices.
Bezos’s blog post continues:
These communications 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, 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.
This is a pretty loaded story, and at the time of publication, neither Amazon or American Media have issued official responses.