BCK FILE--Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos has pointed an angry finger at the National Enquirer’s David J. Pecker, accusing the American Media Inc. chairman and CEO of blackmail and extortion.
In a Medium blog post, Bezos stated that the National Enquirer had threatened to publish explicit photographs unless Bezos publicly affirmed that the tabloid’s coverage of his affair was not politically motivated. Pecker’s attorney, Elkan Abramowitz told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopolous, “It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail.
The information was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss (Lauren) Sanchez.” According to the Daily Beast, numerous sources point to Miss Sanchez’s brother Michael who is connected to Roger Stone, Carter Page, and other members of the president’s inner circle.
Regardless of who is behind the leaked photos, Donald Trump has had a longstanding beef with Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post. Trump’s missive-Tweets seem to have escalated since news broke of the billionaire’s pending divorce. Some speculate jealousy is behind the president’s attempts at cyberbullying. Other’s suspect it’s related to his rage that the press isn’t a propaganda arm like Fox. Whatever the reason, the National Enquirer seems to be at the nexus of Trump’s feud.
While Trump spends a substantial percentage of his executive time criticizing the mainstream press, he praised the Enquirer for its front-page breaking story of Jeff Bezos and his relationship with Lauren Sanchez. Last month, the president bully-tweeted, “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo (sic) being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post.”
The supermarket tabloid is the perfect partner for Trump; the National Enquirer lacks any sense of ethics or accountability. At its best, it’s a chuckle-baiting glance while in the checkout line. At its worst, the tabloid skirts around libel laws.
The National Enquirer and its parent company American Media Inc. (AMI) have had Trump’s back, paying a $150K catch and kill fee to silence an affair between Trump and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. However, Pecker, who had been a close friend of Trump’s, is a cooperating witness in the federal investigation in the Southern District of New York that involves Trump fixer Michael Cohen. The AMI CEO corroborated Cohen’s statement that he had arranged payments to Ms. McDougal and Stormy Daniels at Trump’s direction. Cohen also acknowledged these payouts were illegal campaign contributions because they were intended to influence the election.
We’ll likely hear much more about the source of the leaked photos and Trump’s continued vitriol toward Bezos, as well as his gloating Schadenfreude, ironic, considering Trump has engaged in numerous adulterous conquests, including the alleged sexual affairs the National Enquirer paid to silence. Perhaps, what goes around, comes around.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a professional writer living in the Los Angeles area. She covers Resistance Watch and other major issues for CityWatch.)