Jeff Bezos Accuses Tabloid Of 'Extortion' Over 'Intimate Texts'

Jeff Bezos Accuses Tabloid Of 'Extortion' Over 'Intimate Texts'

The usually media-shy executive also published explicit email exchanges and descriptions of the photos, saying he would rather be embarrassed than extorted.

David Pecker is the CEO of American Media, Inc.

The newspaper's owner AMI reached the deal previous year after paying $150,000 to silence Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who had allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump. On Twitter last month, Trump called the tech executive "Jeff Bozo".

Given Pecker's longtime friendship with President Trump, the Enquirer's role in "catching and killing" stories to help Trump, and and Bezos's presence on Trump's enemies list, many commentators have speculated about a potential Trump connection in this case - but it is just speculation.

Jeff Bezos, chairman and CEO of Amazon, speaks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center's Forum on Leadership in Dallas, Texas April 20, 2018.

American Media said in an emailed statement that it "believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr Bezos" and made "good faith negotiations" with the USA billionaire but had decided nonetheless to "promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims" by the Amazon CEO.

Bezos mentioned this "catch and kill" arrangement for McDougal's story in his Medium post, which he titled, "No thank you, Mr. Pecker".

American Media says its board of directors ordered a prompt and thorough investigation.

"I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer", Bezos said. The photos include a "below the belt selfie" of Mr. Bezos, photos of him in tight boxer-briefs and wearing only a towel, and several revealing photos of Ms. Sanchez, according to the e-mail Mr. Bezos released in his blog post.

Ironically, becoming a Trump nemesis doesn't seem to have hurt the Amazon founder's fortunes. Bezos on Thursday said he directed de Becker to "prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on", and touted Amazon's business success.

Jeff Bezos is worth an estimated $134 billion (£103 billion) as of February 8, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It reported that Bezos sent "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" to Sanchez, months before Bezos announced he was splitting up with his wife, MacKenzie.

That prompted Bezos to launch an investigation into the Enquirer, and how it was able to obtain such intimate material. Soon after, the tabloid carried reports about text messages hinting at the billionaire's affair.

In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted, "We were warned explicitly by insiders that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of @AP journalists looking into the tabloid's efforts on behalf of Trump". He also pointed to owning The Post and their coverage of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as potential reasons people could be targeting him.

Bezos's move to scoop the Enquirer on its own story effectively neutralized any leverage the magazine had over him.

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 past year with federal prosecutors in connection with a US$150,000 (RM612,543) hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump.

AMI responded that it was allowed to publish the photos out of a public interest, since "millions of Americans have a vested interest in the success of Amazon".

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