American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, pushed back on Friday against claims made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that the publication engaged in blackmail and extortion, saying it acted “lawfully” while reporting about the billionaire's personal life.
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“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” the company said in a statement. “Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.”
American Media continued to say that its company board will thoroughly investigate claims made by Bezos to the contrary, and take whatever resulting action was deemed necessary.
The dispute between the billionaire and the media organization is in regards to personal text messages the outlet obtained and published last month between Bezos and the woman he is currently seeing, Lauren Sanchez. When Bezos began to investigate how the National Enquirer came to obtain those messages, he said American Media threatened to release intimate photos of him and Sanchez unless he put a stop to the probe.
Bezos published emails he received from American Media on Thursday in a blog post on Medium — which detailed his blackmail claims in full. The outlet also allegedly sent a list of demands to Bezos and his lawyers that needed to be met in order for the personal photos to remain private — including his admission that American Media was not motivated or influenced by political forces.
Bezos, however, decided to publish the correspondence rather than give in to those demands.
“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 said. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”