With the fast-moving saga between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer reaching bizarre new levels seemingly by the hour, we present this timeline of events for readers who need to catch up:
- In January, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, took to Twitter to announce their separation after a 25-year-long partnership.
- The split was surprising at first, and then less so, after the National Enquirer reported that it had been investigating Bezos for four months, claiming it had evidence that Bezos had a mistress, Lauren Sanchez, a former anchor for Fox’s local station in Los Angeles.
- Details of Bezos’s personal life (including leaked sext messages) suddenly became the stuff of tabloid headlines, and those headlines lasted for weeks.
- Yesterday Bezos took to Medium to fire back at the National Enquirer, its parent company AMI, and its CEO, David Pecker. In the post, Bezos alleged that AMI, through its chief content officer, Dylan Howard, tried to blackmail and extort him by threatening to release compromising photos of him. According to Bezos, they didn’t want a payout from the richest man in the world, but wanted him to make a “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.'”
- This is odd for a number of reasons. First, the wording makes it clear that Bezos either knows or has reason to suspect that the Enquirer’s story about his affair was, in fact, politically motivated. Second, it’s pretty well established that the Enquirer has been politically motivated in the past: AMI already admitted that it worked with the Trump campaign to “catch and kill” Karen McDougal’s story about an affair with Donald Trump, which it then killed to ostensibly protect the president.
- Since Trump has issued many tweets about his hatred of the Washington Post, Amazon, and “Jeff Bozo,” Bezos suggests that AMI might have published the story as a favor to or at the direction of Trump. If the rumors that “a government agency” was in fact behind Bezos’s intercepted texts are true, that could validate Bezos’s suspicions of Trump.
New: Washington Post reporter just said that Bezos’ investigator suspects that “a government agency” intercepted Bezos’ text messages.
— julie k. brown (@jkbjournalist) February 8, 2019
- If not Trump, then perhaps it was at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government. Why the Saudis? Because AMI has reportedly explored business ties with Saudi Arabia and published a magazine last year all about crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who many believe is behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a former columnist at the Post.
- In his Medium post, Bezos said Pecker was “apoplectic” over an ongoing investigation by Bezos’s security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is looking into who leaked Bezos’s sexts to the Enquirer. De Becker told the Washington Post, which Bezos of course owns, that he believed the Enquirer’s reporting about Bezos was sparked by a “politically motivated” leak, and told the Daily Beast that his investigation had looked at the possibility that Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez’s brother, was involved with the leak. Michael Sanchez is connected to a number of President Donald Trump’s known associates. According to the Post, Sanchez “firmly denies playing any role in the revelation of his sister’s affair.”
- Turns out, Bezos wasn’t alone: Ronan Farrow tweeted Thursday that he and one other unnamed journalist fielded similar blackmail efforts from American Media as they were reporting on its relationship with Trump.
- In response to Bezos’s Medium post, AMI now says it will “promptly and thoroughly investigate” his claims. It also said in a statement that it had been in “good faith negotiations” with the Amazon boss, which is a funny way to spell (reported) attempted blackmail.
Full AMI statement here pic.twitter.com/mmCJoEi5Lm
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) February 8, 2019