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Unless you’ve been on a desert island over the past 12+ hours, you’ve likely either read or caught wind of the stunning first-person blog post from Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, where he accuses the National Enquirer of extortion and of trying to blackmail him.
But instead of succuming to the publication’s requests, Bezos calls their bluff and exposes them, writing in a blog post on Medium, “I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.”
And why not? When you’re the richest man in the world, what do you really have to lose in making a decision to come forward and be transparent with something like this? Especially when you think it could help others going forward.
Former NBC Newser and renowned investigative journalist Ronan Farrow has had more than his fair share of issues with the Enquire and AMI in the past. H esays he also received blackmail threat over reporting on the National Enquirer and Trump.
I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” blackmail efforts from AMI. (I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.) https://t.co/kHQdWIkVjV
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) February 8, 2019
In his post, Bezos talks about launching an investigation led by a man named Gavin de Becker (who, ironically at one point was counsel for AMI) into how exactly the Enquirer was able to break a story about his affair with TV personality Lauren Sanchez, how they were able to obtain his texts, and reveals that the tabloid claims to also have sexually-explicit photos of him. “We were approached, verbally at first, with an offer,” he writes. “They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.”
Here’s where it gets really strange. Bezos also publishes back-and-forth emails with legal representatives for for the Enquirer’s parent American Media, Inc., which is run by Trump ally David Pecker.
American Media (AMI) requested Bezos and his investigator say they have no knowledge of AMI’s coverage being “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” And in exchange, AMI would not “publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos.” Now, it’s unclear whether there is a political motivation, though AMI has previously admitted coordinating hush money payments on behalf of Trump’s behalf (Case in point: Silencing Karen McDougal so her story about an affair with Trump wouldn’t influence Trump’s chances of winning the election, something Farrow had also previously reported).
One might recall Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski saying in June 2017 that the White House was prepared to spike a negative story that was going to be published in the Enquirer if they apologized for how they were covering him.
“We got a call that the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story,” said Scarborough. “And they said, ‘if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story.’ Three people at the very top of the administration calling me, and the response was like, ‘are you kidding me?’ I don’t know what they have. Run a story. I’m not going to do it,” Scarborough said.
“They were pinning the story on my ex-husband,” Brzezinski added. “And I knew he would never do that. So I knew it was a lie and they had nothing. These calls persisted for quite some time. They were threatening. They were calling my children,” she said.
Both Trump and AMI denied these events.