Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer owner of extortion over intimate texts, photos

Andrew Cummings
February 8, 2019

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has released an open letter in response to an alleged extortion attempt by the National Enquirer and its parent company American Media. That same day, the National Enquirer touted it was publishing alleged intimate text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor whom he was said to be dating.

In exchange for the non-publication, Bezos would make a statement that he and Gavin de Becker, who led the investigation into whether The National Enquirer's coverage was politically motivated, and how they obtained Bezos' private information, had no basis for "suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces".

Bezos declined to do so.

"If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they'll publish the photos, and quickly", Bezos writes.

Mr. Bezos wrote that this week, the tabloid's editor, Dylan Howard, e-mailed an attorney for Mr. Bezos's long-time security consultant to describe photos the Enquirer "obtained during our newsgathering".

Bezos copy and pasted an email allegedly from Dylan Howard, AMI's COO, days after that initial threat was made, which claims that they have obtained nine lewd photos of Bezos and Sanchez in addition to a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a 'd*ck pick'".

Bezos went on to say that, "Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here", Bezos wrote. If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten", Bezos wrote in a post on Medium.

Bezos and his wife announced last month that they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, following a period of "loving exploration" and trial separation.

According to the New York Times, Trump and Pecker dined together to celebrate him winning the presidency. Cohen pleaded guilty to several federal crimes and admitted that he had made a deal, on Trump's behalf, in which the Enquirer helped Trump's presidential bid by paying $150,000 United States to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal to buy and bury her story.

On MSNBC Thursday night, Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia said he had "spoken extensively" with the head of Bezos' investigation, security consultant Gavin de Becker.

A spokesman for the USA attorney's office in Manhattan did not immediately comment on Bezos' assertion that AMI had committed extortion.

AMI, the company that owns the National Enquirer is now feeling the heat from Justice Department investigations into potential corruption related to AMI CEO David Pecker's close ties with Donald Trump and the Saudi government.

Pecker is now cooperating with federal investigators who are looking into the company's involvement with the Trump campaign.

Hours later, the first Enquirer story on his relationship with Sanchez posted online.

· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.

In his post on Medium, Bezos called his ownership of The Post "a complexifier" for him. Or at least that's what the top people at the National Enquirer thought.

Other reports by iNewsToday