Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos is accusing American Media, Inc. of blackmail and extortion in a blog post that included a series of threatening emails Bezos says he received from AMI and its lawyer.
Bezos writes that after the National Enquirer, which is owned by AMI, published an exposé rife with intimate text messages between him and a woman he presumably had an affair with, he retained an investigator to determine how the messages were obtained.
The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, reported that the investigator concluded that the National Enquirer story was “politically motivated.” AMI’s CEO David Pecker is known to have deep ties to President Donald Trump, who has been critical of The Washington Post’s reporting.
As a result, Pecker, National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, and an AMI lawyer have threatened to release intimate photos of Bezos and the woman unless Bezos and the investigator make a public statement to the press saying that they “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
AMI makes the claim that publishing the photos is “newsworthy,” and that the photos convey Bezos’ poor judgment to Amazon shareholders.
Jon Fine, Deputy General Counsel, Media of AMI, wrote in the email published in the post, “Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril.” (According to Fine’s LinkedIn profile, he was previously an attorney for Amazon.)
AMI released the following statement:
“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him. Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”Blog Post