Jeff Bezos Accused The National Enquirer of 'Extortion and Blackmail' Over Nude Photos
In an extraordinary move on Thursday, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, published an essay on Medium, in which he described an alleged attempt by National Enquirer parent company AMI to blackmail him. It stems from the combination of the Washington Post's reporting on AMI and Bezos' affair with former television host Lauren Sanchez. Donald Trump may also play a role.
All told, this story is very 2019, in that it involves the very bizarre cocktail of Bezos, Amazon, the National Enquirer, Donald Trump, an affair, nude photos, and Trump associate David Pecker, who is the chairman and CEO of AMI.
Here are some of the key details:
What's going on with Bezos' affair?
On January 9, 2019, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, issued a statement via Twitter announcing their divorce. The statement said:
“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”
Hours after releasing the statement, the National Enquirer reported that Bezos had been having an extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former host on Extra. The Enquirer also published text messages between Bezos and Sanchez.
What is AMI threatening to release?
In his Medium post, Bezos shared emails that AMI representatives sent to him, in which they described photos in their possession.
In addition to the “below the belt selfie—otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’”—The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:
· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
· Ms. Sanchez response—a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.
· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand—while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts?—?and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand—while wearing his wedding ring.
· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.
· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.
· A naked selfie in a bathroom—while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel—and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.
· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.
Why is AMI threatening to blackmail Bezos?
According to Bezos, Pecker is "apoplectic" over the Washington Post's coverage of Pecker's use of the publication and AMI for political gain, specifically using his relationship with Donald Trump to benefit Saudi Arabian allies. (AMI has denied that it's used the publication for political ends.) Here are some of AMI's demands in exchange for not releasing the photos, either all at once or slowly.
1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.
2. 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.
3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).
4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.
5. The agreement is completely confidential.
Bezos explained that rather than hide behind what AMI claims they have, he'd rather use the opportunity to expose them for "extortion and blackmail." Bezos also stood behind his decision to run the Post, even though it exists as what he called a "complexifier" for him.
Bezos ended his post explaining why he decided to come forward with the full story.
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.
We will soon see what crawls out, indeed, one way or another.
Where does Donald Trump fit into all of this?
The president has taken aim at Bezos, Amazon, and the Post, referring to the Post as the "Amazon Washington Post," even though the two companies are completely separate entities.
But the connection to the affair and the National Enquirer may go deeper than his petty feud. Gavin de Becker, the Bezos confidante who's investigating the text-message leak, has said he's looking into whether Lauren Sanchez's brother, a Trump supporter, handed over the messages for political reasons.
"Those who support the president may have been motivated to move against Mr. Bezos since Mr. Trump has long criticized the billionaire," the New York Times saidon Thursday.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.