Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says Enquirer publisher tried to extort him
In an explosive tell-all blog post published Thursday, Jeff Bezos accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of trying to extort him.
The post by Bezos on the blogging platform Medium revealed what he said were the full text of emails his representatives got from executives at AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer.
Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of Amazon, alleged that AMI threatened to release compromising photos of him. His post included what he said were emails from AMI detailing what he described as “extortion and blackmail.” Bezos, the world’s richest person, is the single largest shareholder in Amazon, with 16% of the company’s stock.
“Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing,” Bezos wrote. “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.”
Bezos titled his post “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” referring to AMI’s chairman and CEO, David Pecker. In the text, he shared what he said was an email from AMI’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, in which Howard threatened to release intimate and personal photos and text messages of Bezos and a woman the National Enquirer said he was having an affair with.
“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’
Some of Bezos’ text messages were made public last month. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage.
Howard and AMI deputy general counsel Jon Fine did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ requests for comment. Neither did a spokesperson for the Washington Post. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that Bezos wrote the post.
After Bezos made his divorce plans public, the National Enquirer said it had been investigating Bezos for four months, claiming it had evidence that Bezos has been “whisking his mistress off to exotic destinations on his $65 million private jet.” The Enquirer and other outlets identified the woman as Lauren Sanchez, a former anchor for Fox’s local station in Los Angeles.
Gavin de Becker, whom the Washington Post described as “Bezos’ longtime private security consultant,” has been conducting an investigation to determine the source of the leaks to the Enquirer.