National Enquirer Accused of Bezos Extortion

By, Annie A. ’21

MacKenzie Tuttle and Jeff Bezos got married in 1993, a year before Bezos founded Amazon. However, 26 years later, the couple is divorcing after Bezos and Lauren Sanchez’s affair was made known to each of their respective spouses in fall of 2018. The National Enquirer investigated Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and approached Bezos with a threat to release explicit photos of the multi-billionaire sent through texts. Instead, Bezos made a post on Medium, writing that, “I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at The National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.” Essentially, The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI), threatened to leak Bezos’ personal photos and communications if Bezos and his team didn’t make a statement indicating that their investigation into AMI showed no political motivations.

As if that wasn’t suspicious enough, AMI was also responsible for a tactic called “catch and kill,” where a news organization pays someone for the exclusive rights to their story and then never publishes the article. Specifically, AMI met with Michael Cohen and an unidentified Trump campaign member to discuss suppressing damaging stories from women who had affairs with then-candidate Trump (Bloomberg).

The fact that AMI wanted Bezos to announce publicly that he had no reason to believe the publications were politically motivated is concerning, considering that Trump and Bezos have feuded for quite some time. This type of scandal can provoke slight distrust of news outlets. As Chloe M. ’21 noted, “it is quite frankly alarming that in an already hostile atmosphere surrounding journalism we have confirmed cases of extortion by media outlets we should be able to trust. While it’s important to continue consuming media responsibly, it’s deeply unsettling that there are these kind of dealings going on behind closed doors.” Although the commotion around these shocking allegations has seemed to subside, it is incredibly important that we recognize that the vast majority of media sources in today’s day and age are not legitimate.