Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Says National Enquirer Threatened to Publish a Nude Photo of Him

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, had threatened to publish explicit photos, including a nude photo of him, and additional sexually charged text messages, unless Bezos publicly stated that the Enquirer's investigation into his personal life was not politically motivated.

Bezos addressed the issue on his blog at Medium.com, saying the Enquirer made the threat as part of "extortion and blackmail."

The story goes back to last month when the Enquirer published text messages that showed Bezos was having an affair with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, which ultimately led to Bezos ending his marriage to MacKenzie Bezos.

Bezos titled his blog post, "No thank you, Mr. Pecker" (David Pecker is chairman and CEO of AMI), and he included emails from the Enquirer that listed the photos it had of the Amazon CEO and Sanchez, as well as a threat to publish them if Bezos did not provide a statement to AMI's satisfaction about its investigation.

"Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons," Bezos wrote.

Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, hired veteran investigator Gavin de Becker to determine how the tabloid had obtained those text messages, and what the motives behind it might be.

"I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter," Bezos wrote.

Once de Becker's began looking into the matter, AMI wrote to Bezos and his team.

"Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is 'apoplectic' about our investigation," Bezos wrote. "A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker's apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn't stop our investigation."

Bezos said his attorneys told AMI that they didn't have the right to publish any such photos because they didn't have copyright permission, nor were they "newsworthy."

"AMI's claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself," Bezos wrote. "Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it's usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves."

Bezos said AMI sent his team a letter outlining which photos it had obtained from AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, with Bezos responding: "I guess we (me, my lawyers, and Gavin de Becker) didn't react to the generalized threat with enough fear."

Bezos posted the letter, which was supposed to be confidential between parties, on his blog. It included details of nine photos, including an alleged picture of a "below-the-waist-selfie."

Howard, the chief content officer for AMI, ended his letter with: "It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail—and quickly."

Bezos continued his post with correspondence that went back and forth between the two parties, including an offer of six terms to prevent the Enquirer from publishing the photos of Bezos and Sanchez. Those terms included Bezos releasing a statement, and AMI confirming that it did not engage in electronic eavesdropping to obtain information.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Says National Enquirer Threatened to Publish a Nude Photo of Him | U.S.
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