Jeff Bezos has a lesson for everyone: trying to blackmail someone with a controversial reputation will just backfire.
In a lengthy blog post on Medium, the Amazon founder accused America Media Inc. (AMI) — the company behind the National Enquirer — of “extortion and blackmail.” Bezos’ post, entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” claimed that AMI owner David Pecker threatened to release “below-the-belt selfies” of Bezos, exposing photographs, text messages, and details about an affair between Bezos and media personality Lauren Sanchez. The piece, — published the day after Bezos announced he was splitting with his wife, novelist MacKenzie Bezos — turned Bezos and his romantic endeavours into a running joke.
But the piece also raised the possibility of AMI’s political motivations. Pecker’s friendship with President Donald Trump is now well-known, and the National Enquirer has been at the center of investigations into the company having made payments to “catch-and-kill” stories about Trump’s extramarital affairs. Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has been critical of Trump.
The tangled web of relationships leads many to believe that the original Enquirer post was a politically motivated piece — that its purpose was to negatively impact the Post and Bezos, and to control its reporting, as a favor to President Trump. AMI claimed that “American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise,” but Bezos has set out to prove otherwise.
The emails released by Bezos indeed seem to indicate that AMI threatened to expose embarrassing images and more text images if Bezos did not stop a Washington Post investigation focused on the motivations of and tactics used by AMI for the original expose. One email from Pecker to Bezos details the information AMI had and would release if the Washington Post published its claims of political ties between AMI and Donald Trump. Bezos writes that “numerous people have contacted [his] investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI,” and that the media company has earned a “reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges.”
Bezos concluded: “Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here.”.
Read the full blog post and alleged emails from AMI here: https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f