Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has little reason to fear anyone—even when they are threatening to release compromising pictures of him having an alleged extramarital affair. He proved as much when he posted a practically poetic takedown of the National Enquirer and the supermarket tabloid’s holding company American Media Inc. on Medium yesterday (Feb. 7).
In the post, entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos argues that AMI, lead by CEO David Pecker, threatened blackmail, promising to publish more pictures, texts, and other evidence of his affair with former news anchor Lauren Sanchez if Bezos didn’t curb his criticism of Pecker’s publication. Today (Feb. 8), AMI responded with a much less literary statement, saying, “American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.”
Though Bezos is the one who allegedly sent pictures of his privates, it is Pecker who the Amazon CEO has shamed with his forthrightness. Bezos contends that he is calling Pecker out because he must, because if someone as powerful and rich as him can be silenced, then who can speak up?
In other words, Bezos is taking one for the team. He doesn’t deny the existence of compromising photos, though he does argue that he was already separated from his wife, Mackenzie Bezos, when the Enquirer was tracking his meetings with Sanchez and he was “whisking his mistress off to exotic destinations on his $65-million private jet,” as the tabloid claims.
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” Bezos wrote. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
Now, AMI says it will look into the Amazon CEO’s claims. “[I]n light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims,” the America Media statement says. “Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”
So, it seems Bezos was right to put up a fight with the Enquirer and that he’s won this round at least. The rest of us may not have as much power or be able to speak up when threatened, but we have also gained. Bezos’s post talked about his ownership of the Washington Post as a “complexifier” in his calculations about dealing with Pecker’s threats. If nothing else, Bezos’s complexification of the English language is appreciated.