Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has accused American tabloid National Enquirer of extortion and blackmail in a blog post published Thursday.
Bezos, one of the richest people in the world, detailed a correspondence he had with National Enquirer and its parent company American Media, Inc. (AMI), in which the tabloid's owner, David Pecker, threatened to publish photos of Bezos during intimate moments, in addition to suggestive photos of Lauren Sánchez, a news anchor and reporter with whom Bezos was having an affair.
Jeff Bezos Nude Photos
Pecker said the publication won't release the photos if Bezos agrees to make a public statement that would essentially downplay the AMI's investigation into his personal life. Pecker wants Bezos to say that AMI was never "politically motivated or influenced by political forces."
News of Bezos' affair with Sánchez first appeared on National Enquirer last month, which eventually led to Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, to file for a divorce.
It's hard to determine what "political forces" exactly mean in the context of National Enquirer investigating Bezos' private life. It's worth noting that the publication is embroiled in a much more serious affair: an ongoing legal controversy involving President Donald Trump over "catch and kill," a practice where a publication purchases exclusive rights to sensitive information about someone and deliberately keeps it from being released.
There was speculation earlier suggesting the tabloid actively pursued stories about Trump and hid them from public view. Later, court documents revealed that AMI had paid $150,000 to hide a story about Trump having an alleged affair with a woman before he campaigned for president.
Pecker, a close friend of Trump's, was allegedly rewarded for burying the story with a White House dinner, among other things.
AMI reportedly started sending threatening emails when it learned that Bezos had been conducting his own private investigation into how National Enquirer was able to obtain sensitive information about him. Lawyers for AMI tried to tell Bezos to stand down lest his inquiry leads to more revelations about AMI's catch and kill tactics, not to mention its political affiliations with Trump.
AMI claims to have possession of several photos, the contents of which Bezos detailed in his blog post. But instead of granting AMI's requests, the Amazon CEO took a different approach.
"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?"