How to eviscerate your enemies with words, by Jeff Bezos

I’m Jeff Bezos, and you’re not.
I’m Jeff Bezos, and you’re not.
Image: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
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Okay, so someone has gotten ahold of some compromising photos of you, and is attempting to blackmail you. What do you do?

Let’s take some pointers from the richest man in the world. Jeff Bezos’s recent evisceration of his enemies—in a Medium post, no less—clocked in at fewer than 1,500 words (not counting the emails he pasted at the bottom, with the senders’ email addresses and phone numbers still included). Follow his lead, and you will come across as both savage and sympathetic.

Embrace the poetry

If pictures of your penis are at the center of the confrontation and the person threatening you is David Pecker, don’t shy away. (Even if your blue-chip private security consultant is de Becker and it rhymes.)

Put that Pecker right in the headline. Put a “Mr.” in front of it to emphasize the indignity: “No thank you, Mr. Pecker.”

Haha, who’s a dick now?

Remember you are a billionaire

You have better things to do than engage with this!

“I asked [de Becker] to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.”

That’s all.

Make up words

If the English language isn’t complex enough to provide the word you need to describe how your ownership of a national media outlet complicates your dealings with other powerful people, make one up: “My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me.”

People will know what you mean, and even appreciate that you didn’t permit a tedious copyeditor to question you, though you clearly employ some.

Make fun of their words with “scare quotes” and repetition

“Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation” of his company’s relationship with the Saudi government, wrote Bezos.

Apoplectic is a strong word, and honestly makes this person sound kind of hysterical and unhinged. If someone says they’re apoplectic, turn it around and say it again, like it’s a medical condition:

“A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. “

Also, if they refer to a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’”—go ahead and print that too. What nerds!

Just the facts: I’m Jeff Bezos, and you’re not

If someone attempts to question your business acumen, school them:

“I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. 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.”

But act relatable

If your would-be blackmailer sends you a pretty lustily descriptive list of the photos they’re threatening to publish, go ahead and include that list. But as soon as you do, add a line that’s like, Whoa!: “Well, that got my attention.”

Then, turn this ship around—fast—away from “either tight black cargo pants or shorts ” and plunging red necklines, toward some principles, for Pete’s sake.

Why are you doing this? one sentence

Just lay it out simply:

“If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

In other words, anyone who makes it about your below-the-belt-selfies is entirely missing the point.