This accusation is the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has brought the world's richest person's private life into the spotlight.
The disagreement between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and American Media Inc's (AMI) National Enquirer (NE) is getting uglier as neither is willing to surrender. In a blog post on February 7, Bezos accused NE of extortion and blackmail.
The accusation gave a twist to the weeks-long saga that brought the world's richest person's private life into the spotlight and thrust him deeper into a battle with the leading American tabloid, which reportedly has close links with the US President Donald Trump.
Here's a look at what transpired between Bezos and NE.
In January 2019, Bezos announced his divorce from wife MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage. Following this, NE published an investigative article and claimed Bezos had an affair with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Bezos, instantly hired an investigator to find out the source of the publication's article.
According to Bezos' post, AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard told Bezos' attorney that NE had acquired some private images of him and Sanchez. In a subsequent email, NE allegedly claimed that it would not publish the images if Bezos made a statement suggesting that the tabloid's reporting was not politically motivated.
"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."
"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," the post read.
On February 8, AMI stated that it would look into the allegations and take necessary action. The claims attain political implications as the media house had reportedly paid model Karen McDougal $150,000 to keep her alleged affair with President Donald Trump a secret. Prosecutors later said that David Pecker, CEO of AMI, offered to keep negative stories on Trump at bay during his 2016 election campaigning as it could hurt his chances in the presidential run-up.It is well known that Trump and Bezos have been at odds for a sometime now. Bezos owns The Washington Post, which the Amazon boss claims has put him at odds with powerful people including the president over political reportage. In a tweet last month, Trump had mocked the Amazon founder calling him "Jeff Bozo".
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. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Elkan Abramowitz, an attorney for Pecker, appeared on a news network where he talked about the company's innocence. "It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail."Insisting that it was journalism, Abramowitz said Bezos had threatened the tabloid. "You can make journalistic decisions as to how many times you're going to write the same story. That's not the job of the prosecutors or anybody else to determine," Abramowitz said.