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Being rich may make you an alluring target for blackmail. But being really, really rich may make you immune.
In an extraordinary blog post published on Medium Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused The National Enquirer of attempting to blackmail him by threatening to publish 10 intimate photos unless Bezos stopped an investigation into how the tabloid obtained his private messages and images.
In the post, Bezos reproduced emails that appear to show associates of David Pecker—chair of American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company—demanding that Bezos publicly state that there is no reason to believe the tabloid’s coverage of him is “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” If he refused, Bezos alleges, the Enquirer’s representatives said the publication would make public intimate photos of him and Lauren Sanchez, a woman with whom he had a romantic relationship.
Bezos is the world’s richest man, with a stake in Amazon valued at roughly $127 billion. In the post, titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos wrote that “these communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. 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. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.” Representatives for AMI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The post marked a dramatic escalation of Bezos’ feud with the Enquirer, which began last month when the tabloid published a 12-page article containing text messages between Bezos and Sanchez, revealing what the Enquirer said was an affair. The article appeared shortly after Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, announced they were getting divorced.
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