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Amazon's Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer owner tried to blackmail him

Amazon's Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer owner tried to blackmail him

Earlier Thursday, the Amazon CEO alleged that American Media Inc. - the Enquirer's parent company - threatened to publish a nude photo of him if he didn't stop investigating the magazine's exposure of his affair and publicly declare that its reporting hadn't been "politically motivated".

"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 the post, which was entitled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker" and included copies of emails from AMI.

As far as why the outlet would go to such lengths, with threats to release "below the belt selfie", among other images, Bezos cited his lawyer's investigation into how National Enquirer obtained the texts, as well as Pecker's reported actions on behalf of President Donald Trump and on behalf of the Saudi Government.

According to the emails, an attorney for AMI offered a formal deal Wednesday: The tabloid wouldn't post the photos if Bezos and his investigators would release a public statement "affirming that they have no knowledge or basis" to suggest the Enquirer's coverage was "politically motivated or influenced by political forces".

Mr. Bezos's investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair was politically motivated.

The alleged extortion raises questions among some legal observers about whether AMI and its chief executive David Pecker have violated a cooperation agreement AMI made previous year with federal prosecutors in connection with a $150,000 hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump. If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? The deal not to prosecute was conditional on AMI not committing another crime, the office said.

Pecker is cooperating with federal prosecutors who are investigating so-called catch-and-kill payments the Enquirer made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to at least one woman who alleged she had an affair with Trump.




The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition, he included emails from AMI's deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, detailing a list of terms under which AMI said it would withhold publication of the photos.

In one e-mail that Mr Bezos disclosed, Mr Howard wrote that The Enquirer had obtained photos of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez as part of its "news-gathering". The Enquirer secured the rights to the material, assuring the allegations wouldn't be shared with other media, then never published the story. It also said the photos were newsworthy, given Bezos' prominence. He also published correspondence between AMI and lawyers for his investigator, Gavin de Becker. "Simply put, this was and is a news story".

Several days ago, someone at AMI told Mr. Bezos's team that the company's chief executive David Pecker was "apoplectic" about Mr. Bezos's investigation, Mr. Bezos said.

It does not appear that AMI demanded any money from Bezos - only that he call off his investigation and issue a statement saying the coverage wasn't political.

He added, "At an extreme level, this shows how frightening it should be to the citizens of the United States that the National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States".


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