Is it possible that the president of
the United States could be involved in a scandal that includes threats by a
notorious tabloid to release salacious photos of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of
Amazon and owner of The Washington Post? A question like that would itself long
have been regarded the stuff of a scandal sheet but, unfortunately these days,
it’s one that now needs to be asked.
Bezos went online charging the
National Enquirer and its owner, American Media Inc., with threatening to
release salacious pictures of him unless he called off a private investigation
he was conducting of the Enquirer. Bezos was investigating how the tabloid had
obtained copies of text messages exposing his affair with Lauren Sanchez, a
former TV news personality.
Bezos charged that David Pecker, who
runs the Enquirer, wanted him to issue a public lie. The lie that Pecker wanted
Bezos to tell was the he (Bezos) and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker,
“have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically
motivated or influenced by political forces.”
AMI has been known for its glowing
coverage of all kinds of right-wing heroes, including the president and his
administration, the Trump family, and the Saudi princes involved in the killing
of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Kashoggi.
Bezos refused to buckle under the
threat of public embarrassment and, instead, published emails the Enquirer had
sent to a lawyer representing his man, de Becker. In one of those emails,
Enquirer editor Dylan Howard says, essentially, that the paper would publish
salacious photos of Bezos and Sanchez if Bezos dis not agree to AMI’s demands.
It essentially amounted to blackmail.
There were reports on MSNBC that Ronan
Farrow, a Pulitzer Prize winner, had received similar blackmail threats from
the Enquirer after he had written stories that were uncomplimentary to the
Enquirer’s style of journalism—the so-called catch-and-kill approach, whereby
the paper purchases the exclusive right to the stories of accusers or
whistleblowers but then never prints them in order to protect the accused.
AMI and the Enquirer are loyal
supporters of President Trump and the rulers of Saudi Arabia, both of whom have
been unhappy with Washington Post coverage of their operations in Washington
and in Riyadh. The Post has been particularly zealous in going after both
regarding the murder of their columnist. Last month, the Bezos consultant, de
Becker, was quoted in various media outlets as saying that the Enquirer had
obvious political motivations for going after Bezos.
Earlier this month, the Post reported
that Bezos suspected the texts and photos were leaked by Lauren Sanchez’s
brother, Michael Sanchez, a public relations executive who is very close to
Pecker, Roger Stone, and Carter Page. Michael Sanchez was told, according to
the Post, by numerous sources at AMI that the Enquirer was about to do “a
takedown to make Trump happy.”
Pecker seems to have put himself and
AMI directly—and Trump indirectly—into some new and deeper trouble. AMI has a
non-prosecution deal regarding Pecker’s illegal pay-off to Karen McDougal for
her silence before the election regarding an affair with Donald Trump. That
immunity deal becomes null and void however, if Pecker or AMI have done
anything illegal—which of course they have if the Bezos allegations are true.
One of the most troubling parts of the
mess is the Saudi connection. Trump has disputed clear evidence that Kashoggi
was killed on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s actual ruler, Prince Mohammed bin
Last year, a beautiful, full cover glossy
magazine appeared in supermarkets all over the United States and even in other
countries. It was full of flattery toward Saudi Arabia, its prince, and all of
the alleged “reforms” taking place there. The magazine’s publisher? Pecker’s
On April 24, 2018, the Associated
Press reported that the Saudis got what it called a “sneak peak” at the
flattering AMI magazine before it was even published. Pecker was known to have
met at that time with Saudis at the Saudi embassy to the United States in
To what extent was the magazine part
of a deal to grease the way for Pecker who, like Trump, wanted new business
opportunities in Saudi Arabia? To what extent was the Trump administration
involved in setting up those meetings? The president’s son-in-law, Jared
Kushner, is known to have introduced Pecker to his pal, the Saudi prince.
Lots of questions. What we know may be
just the tip of the iceberg, but that tip itself is pretty big. Merchants of
smut who employ gangster tactics and methods are out there collecting dirt on
whoever they feel it necessary to collect such dirt. Most people of course,
unlike Bezos, don’t have the means to defend themselves. Unscrupulous outfits
like AMI help despotic-minded people like Trump set up “news outlets” that spread
lies disguised as news.
They defend the indefensible, up to
and including the murder of journalists. They have stockpiled in their safes
and lock boxes piles of other “information” they can use as weapons. They are,
in short, a machine for churning out false information that fuels their
Worst of all, perhaps, that enterprise
is largely centered at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
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