Jeff Bezos breezily replied to a threat of “extortion” from the National Enquirer in a three-word email.
That’s according to his security consultant Gavin de Becker, who shed more light on the Amazon CEO’s response to the American Media Inc (AMI) publication delving into his relationship with former TV host Lauren Sanchez.
In an op-ed for The Daily Beast, de Becker recalled AMI’s email to Bezos and himself, demanding that they sign an eight-page contract in exchange for intimate pictures of the world’s richest man being kept under wraps by the National Enquirer.
The contract would have required Bezos and de Becker to make a public statement in which they distanced AMI’s reporting on the Sanchez affair from any political motivations. It also required them to say that the Enquirer had not used “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process.”
Upon receipt of the email on February 6, de Becker said Bezos immediately replied: “No thank you.”
Hours later, Bezos published an explosive blog revealing AMI’s plan and accusing the company of “extortion and blackmail.” The title of his blog was a nod to his email, “No thank you, Mr. Pecker.” Pecker is David Pecker, the CEO of AMI.
De Becker retrod this ground to illustrate how unusual AMI’s request was. The company wanted to prevent any chance of it being accused of “electronic eavesdropping or hacking” even though de Becker had never publicly said anything about it using these methods.
“I’m writing this today because it’s exactly what the Enquirer scheme was intended to prevent me from doing,” de Becker said in the Daily Beast, before revealing that his investigation had concluded that “the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information.”
AMI throws source under a bus
On Sunday, AMI denied that Saudi Arabia had any involvement in its story on Bezos — and did so by throwing a source under a bus. That source is Michael Sanchez, sister of Lauren, who has admitted to playing a role in the story, but has consistently and strenuously denied being the source of Bezos’ intimate pictures.
“Despite the false and unsubstantiated claims of Mr. de Becker, American Media has, and continues to, refute the unsubstantiated claims that the materials for our report were acquired with the help of anyone other than the single source who first brought them to us,” AMI said in a statement provided to the Daily Beast.
“The fact of the matter is, it was Michael Sanchez who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation. His continued efforts to discuss and falsely represent our reporting, and his role in it, has waived any source confidentiality. There was no involvement by any other third party whatsoever.”
Saudia Arabia has also denied any involvement in the story. “This is something between the two parties. We have nothing to do with it,” Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said in February.