Economy

Dave Ross Ross: How not to bully a billionaire like Jeff Bezos

Dave Ross Ross: How not to bully a billionaire like Jeff Bezos

A plot twist in the real life drama we call 2019 that no one saw coming was Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos getting out ahead of American Media Inc.'s (AMI) apparent extortion plot, publishing in lurid detail what was threatened and why.

NEW YORK: The stunning extortion claims made by Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos against the Trump-friendly National Enquirer tabloid have spotlighted a fierce behind-the-scenes media feud, taking place in an ever more toxic U.S. political climate.

In a statement Friday morning, AMI reiterated claims that it acted within legal boundaries in obtaining personal texts attributed to Bezos, some which the National Enquirer published last month.

AMI said that it had been "in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him" when the allegations were made, and that its board had "convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims".

Mr Bezos' own investigator had, he claimed, suggested earlier that there were indeed "strong leads" to suspect political reasons. It says it'll take "whatever appropriate action is necessary".

Bezos has been repeatedly criticised by US President Donald Trump over his newspaper, The Washington Post, and its coverage of his presidency.

Bezos and his wife announced in January that they were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage, following a period of "loving exploration" and trial separation.

So far, AMI hasn't responded to Bezos' allegations.

"So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo 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".

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Above all, Trump's views of Bezos are no secret and they have mostly been dictated by the latter's ownership of The Washington Post.

In September, the Justice Department agreed to a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, which requires the company and some top executives, including Pecker and Howard, to cooperate with authorities.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail", wrote Mr Bezos, "I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".

Ronan Farrow, one of the reporters who covered the Trump-Enquirer alliance, tweeted on Thursday that he and "at least one other prominent journalist" had been on the receiving end of American Media's "blackmail efforts".

In his Medium post, Bezos pointed to AMI and Pecker's previous cooperation with Trump - including payments made to suppress negative stories, now under investigation by federal prosecutors.

That same day, the National Enquirer advertised it was publishing alleged intimate text messages between Bezos and Sanchez.

The intimate photos at issue include a "below the belt selfie" of Bezos and several revealing photos of Sanchez, according to emails Bezos released of his exchanges with AMI.

In June 2017, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski accused President Donald Trump of threatening them with a hit piece in the National Enquirer in order to gain more favorable coverage on him on their show "Morning Joe". Howard also said that AMI did not level any threats against "either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story". Interestingly, Sanchez is now a subject of the investigation being conducted by de Becker.

The Amazon boss had hired a private investigator to look into whether AMI's revelation of his affair was "politically motivated".


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