Did you read Jeff Bezos’s blog post accusing the National Enquirer of blackmail and extortion? It’s stunning. Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post. He and his wife recently announced their pending divorce just before the National Enquirer printed some of Bezos’s text messages to his mistress. Bezos, naturally, wanted to find out how the National Enquirer accessed his private messages. He did what any multi-billionaire would do; he hired the best investigator in the world. That investigator uncovered evidence that the hit job on Bezos was politically motivated and may be linked to close associates of the White House. How dirty will this story get? We’ll see.
I don’t give a damn about the Bezos’s marriage or affair or divorce. I am interested in the deceptive and illegal tactics used by AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer. AMI is run by David Pecker, a man so aptly named that he ought to be a character in a Dickens novel. Pecker is good buddies with the current president. There’s ample evidence that Pecker used his position and his publication to help the president get elected. He did this by quashing negative stories about Trump, publishing lies about his opponents, and threatening potential sources. He paid big money for negative information and then locked that info in a vault. Real journalists don’t pay to kill stories. That’s your first hint that this man and his tabloid are crooked as a coiled snake.
Bezos says after he began investigating AMI’s tactics, numerous people told him that Pecker and AMI blackmailed them too. In other words, these shady, underhanded, illegal tactics are not an anomaly for the National Enquirer; they are business as usual. I’m not surprised. The National Enquirer has never been a legitimate news source. Gossipy tabloids like the National Enquirer are no more substantial than the gum and candy bars they share shelf space with at the grocery store.
Look, Bezos is complicated. You may not agree with his personal moral choices. You may have issues with the Amazon business model. I have some issues with that business model. But in this case Bezos is not just taking the high road; he is paving a mountain highway. By exposing AMI and David Pecker as dangerous lowlife criminals, Bezos may well take down the entire sleazy empire. I’m rooting for that.
Honestly, in an era where we’ve all heard the current president brag about sexual assault, I’m not sure why anyone believed a few smarmy messages and some compromising photos would be enough to take down a man like Bezos. The times, they are a-changing.
Pecker and his AMI goons grossly underestimated Bezos. They thought the tactics they’d used on other powerful men would surely work again. They were wrong. Bezos called their bluff. Pecker is in real peril here. He is currently a cooperating witness in one of many federal investigations into the president. If Pecker is implicated in this crime, he could lose his immunity deal. If that happens, I hope he gets tossed in jail alongside Paul Manafort and Roger Stone and Michael Cohen and anyone else who ends up going down in this slow rolling Trump scandal. May they all spend the rest of their lives reckoning with the fallout of their misplaced loyalty. And may the headlines and news stories about these men reflect nothing but the truth.