CLOSE

Right here is why Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and The National Enquirer’s father or mother firm are in a public feud over allegations of blackmail and extortion.
USA TODAY

A salacious tabloid newspaper with a conservative owner and a history of unscrupulous programs finds itself below the microscope, forcing a national reckoning in regards to the intersection of journalism, politics, giant title and sleaze.

That’s what occurred seven years ago at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in London. The paper folded in 2012 amid a phone hacking scandal that became U.K.’s media and political establishment the other diagram up. 

But it completely would possibly maybe maybe maybe moreover moreover declare – minus the phone hacking – the controversy engulfing the National Enquirer. 

The Florida-primarily based fully mostly grocery store tabloid has blended giant title gossip, appropriate crime and conspiracy theories for decades. But its affiliation with President Donald Trump – and its unique attacks on Amazon founder and Washington Put up owner Jeff Bezos – is incandescent a harsh gentle on the underbelly of tabloid journalism. 

And now a prison fight with the realm’s richest particular person would possibly maybe maybe maybe moreover demonstrate devastating for a firm that has confronted monetary challenges, including huge debt and the lack of revenue from print sales confronting even mainstream newspapers.

In a weblog post Thursday, Bezos alleged that lawyers for the National Enquirer’s father or mother firm – American Media Inc. – tried to blackmail him into getting the Washington Put up to drop its investigation into the firm’s ties to Trump. 

Extra: National Enquirer owner responds to Bezos post, says it ‘acted lawfully’ in its reporting

Jeff Bezos is taking on the National Enquirer. Right here’s a label on the critical gamers

Feds investigating Jeff Bezos’ claims, examining settlement that shielded AMI from criminal charges

Remaining month, the National Enquirer published photos showing Bezos pondering about an extramarital affair with a faded recordsdata anchor. Sooner than that, Bezos had introduced that he and his accomplice were divorcing.

In emails launched by Bezos, the National Enquirer advised him that it had great more compromising photos, including what it euphemistically described as a “below-the-belt selfie.” It threatened to post the photos unless Bezos publicly acknowledged that he has “no recordsdata or foundation for suggesting that AM’s coverage was once politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

AMI has denied any wrongdoing, asserting it “believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the parable of Mr. Bezos.” In an announcement Friday, the firm acknowledged its board of directors would initiating an investigation into the allegations. 

The firm would possibly maybe maybe maybe moreover like criminal or civil prison responsibility if it was once complicit in illegally obtaining the photos, acknowledged Michael Conway, a attorney who has represented media organizations such as the Contemporary York Cases and ABC, and now teaches at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

“The critical seek recordsdata from here is, did American Media in any methodology encourage, facilitate or in every other case blueprint an effort to win Bezos’ photographs and emails, which we don’t know,” Conway acknowledged. “If they did, then they’re complicit in the crime and the First Amendment doesn’t supply protection to them from publishing it.”

But when the sector topic was once obtained by somebody else and then given to American Media, the firm would possibly maybe maybe maybe moreover maybe post it, Conway acknowledged. It’s the same motive that recordsdata organizations weren’t liable for publishing the Democratic National Committee’s hacked emails at some level of the 2016 advertising and marketing campaign.

The National Enquirer is most attention-grabbing definitely one of AMI’s brands, nonetheless is its oldest and most iconic.

The Associated Press reported that the National Enquirer’s circulation fell 18 % last year, to 265,000 weekly. But that’s factual a diminutive fragment of the two.three million circulation AMI claims. 

Other publications consist of standard of living titles admire Men’s Journal and Muscle and Successfully being. alongside with giant title fare admire In Touch, Us Weekly and Soap Opera Digest.

Remaining year, it sold up great more publications to accept a shut to-monopoly of the grocery store aisle. These incorporated Lifestyles & Style, Closer. J-14 and GirlsWorld.

The firm is privately owned and no longer traded publicly, so its financials are intently held. But factual last month, the firm introduced that it refinanced $460 million worth of debt. 

For example, Gawker declared monetary danger in 2016 after faded educated wrestler Hulk Hogan sued the on-line gossip residing for invasion of privateness after it published a sex tape. Hogan won a $115 million judgment

Murdoch, whose media empire entails the Wall Road Journal and Fox News, closed the News of the World in 2011 after a pair of newspapers staffers were arrested in the phone hacking scandal. While the newspaper illegally obtained voicemails of athletes, celebrities and thousands of others, it was once the hacking of a thirteen-year-dilapidated raze victim that most inflamed the British public. 

The Bezos strive in opposition to is factual definitely one of the most controversies surrounding the tabloid neighborhood:  

► The National Enquirer’s editor, Dylan Howard, reportedly colluded with film producer Harvey Weinstein to discredit ladies folks accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment and rape. 

► Within the trot-as much as the 2016 election, the National Enquirer published a string of dubious reviews about Hillary Clinton’s effectively being, sex existence and involvement in various conspiracies. 

► AMI admitted paying a $A hundred and fifty,000 to faded Playboy playmate Karen McDougal as fragment of a “resolve-and-raze” operation to silence her claims to like had an affair with Trump. 

Remaining year, AMI agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Contemporary York, who were investigating Trump’s payments to ladies folks through long-time deepest attorney Michael Cohen, who will most likely be cooperating. As fragment of that settlement, AMI agreed no longer to commit extra crimes, heightening the stakes for the firm if or no longer it is stumbled on to like acted illegally in the Bezos affair.

AMI Chairman and CEO David Pecker has shut ties to Trump, and the Contemporary York Cases and the Associated Press like reported that Pecker has dilapidated that win admission to to leverage enterprise deals in Saudi Arabia. Bezos acknowledged or no longer it is the Saudi connection that “seems to hit an especially restful nerve.”

Reporter Christal Hayes contributed from Washington.

Autoplay

Demonstrate Thumbnails

Demonstrate Captions

Read or Share this myth: https://www.usatoday.com/myth/recordsdata/nation/2019/02/09/jeff-bezos-blackmail-ami-national-enquirer-father or mother-traipse-below/2811938002/