WASHINGTON, DC: Amazon titan and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos is trying to turn his sex scandal and divorce into a political cause célèbre by accusing the National Enquirer and its editors of being agents of either the White House or Saudi Arabia for threatening to expose a series of damaging naked selfies acquired from Bezos’ girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos alleges that the Saudi Government and the Trump White House are behind the attempt to expose his turbulent private life. He accuses them of extortion and claims they are only pursuing this story to damage him because of his ownership of the Washington Post.
Jeff Bezos forgot he is a celebrity
Mr. Bezos lives in rarified air. The world’s richest man doesn’t seem to understand he is also a celebrity. When someone worth $140 billion dollars announces a divorce, that is news.
Bezos’ alleged sexual affair with the wife of Hollywood’s biggest agent, Patrick Whitesell, is news. When it is all unveiled at once, and when Bezos’ aggrieved wife stands to pick up $70 billion in the divorce, that is big news. Celebrity tabloids like the National Enquirer cover that type of news.
So does TMZ, the New York Times and every publication in America. Celebrity news and scandal is their bread and butter. Jeff Bezos is getting this type of explosive coverage of his private affairs because he is Jeff Bezos, world’s richest man.
Bezos only has himself to blame
Not that he doesn’t have enemies. I’m sure Jeff Bezos has made many enemies in his long career of building one of the world’s most successful companies. His new ex-wife may well be among them. The details of his affair with Sanchez, who has quite a history of her own, are sordid and worthy of a dime store novel. Bezos has only himself to blame.
Apparently Sanchez’s brother was the source for the Enquirer getting its hands on the texts and pictures exchanged between Bezos and Sanchez. The lurid texts were published by the Enquirer at the time of the divorce announcement. The existence of the even more lurid selfies was also widely reported in numerous media outlets.
What does this have to do with Saudi Arabia?
This has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia. Jeff Bezos’ divorce is news. Jeff Bezos’ conduct with Lauren Sanchez is news. Lauren Sanchez’s complicated background of multiple children and multiple lovers and her unseemly affair with Bezos while married to Hollywood heavyweight Whitesell, couldn’t help but make this a screaming tabloid story.
That is 100% on Jeff Bezos. He took the selfies. And carried on the affair. He exchanged the pics over an open communication device. Bezos got exposed. He is embarrassed. Maybe he should blame his girlfriend’s brother for passing the contents of Sanchez’s cellphone to the Enquirer.
Maybe Bezos should blame himself for getting himself into this position.
Bezos can’t take responsibility for anything
But no. Taking responsibility for your own reprehensible behavior isn’t how it’s done anymore. No, you hire Gavin de Becker, noted security specialist and conspiracy theorist. And you blame Donald Trump and the Saudis. Nice bit of deflection, but not borne out by the facts.
Quite the contrary. Bezos and his corporate lobbyist the Washington Post have been investigating David Pecker’s ties to the Saudi Arabian government. Bezos hints that the Enquirer’s coverage of his divorce is in retribution for the WaPo investigation of Saudi influence in America, and particularly with Pecker at AMI, who was courting Saudi investors.
It’s the National Enquirer: Scandal IS their business
Bezos further mixes his personal scandal with delusions of grandeur by postulating that his affair with Sanchez is only covered because of a conspiracy between Pecker, AMI, the Saudi’s and the Trump White House. But he neglects a crucial fact.
It’s the National Enquirer!!! Celebrity scandal is their bread and butter. This is what they do. Remember John Edwards’ love child. Bezos is the world’s richest man. He carried on a tawdry affair, embarrassed himself, his wife and his company. As a result, he only has himself to blame.
But no. It’s Trump’s fault.
WaPo interference in AMI’s business
Bezos and the Washington Post thought nothing of investigating AMI attempts to raise money for their company. The publishing industry overall faces shrinking revenues and tight overheads. Unsurprisingly, AMI and Pecker were courting a series of international investors, including the Saudis.
The Washington Post investigation essentially sought to undermine AMI in its business dealings by suggesting impropriety on their part in seeking foreign investment. Somehow, the murder of sometime WaPo columnist and former Saudi royal intelligence collaborator Jamal Khashogi rendered Saudi investments unclean.
Khashoggi has nothing to with Sanchez
Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi royal agent who turned on the regime and was killed by them. He was also a Muslim Brotherhood member and a supporter of Osama bin Laden. He may have also been an American double agent, in which case his handlers and his associates at WaPo might have warned him not to go to Istanbul.
But David Pecker didn’t kill him. WaPo has no more right to interfere in AMI’s financing efforts as it does telling the Enquirer what and what not to publish. AMI didn’t have the affair. Jeff Bezos did. AMI didn’t take and transmit the selfies. Jeff Bezos did.
AMI produces dozens of publications
AMI is much more than the publisher of the National Enquirer. They also publish the Star, The Globe, Playboy, Muscle and Fitness, and dozens of other periodicals. As the publishing industry shrank and costs escalated, AMI became a de facto production house for all manner of different magazines.
This includes special editions like the Saudi Arabia magazine they published and distributed last year. This was but one of dozens of special editions they publish and distribute. That is AMI’s business. They publish magazines of all different kinds.
So why is the Washington Post looking into the declining fortunes of AMI and its search for capital from around the world? As if that was some sort of nefarious practice. Is that different from Carlos Slim putting money into the NY Times? Or Cy Newhouse watching his Condé Nast empire crumble for lack of financing?
Bezos is unaccountable, but everyone else is?
And how about Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post with leftover change from his endless deep pockets, and launching investigations into anyone he sees fit? Does that justify the relentlessly biased coverage of President Trump from Bezos and his willing WaPo minions? Or the continued efforts of the Washington Post to undermine AMI’s efforts to get financing?
So AMI and and the Enquirer and Pecker offer to call a truce. Stop trying to undermine AMI’s attempts at financing, and AMI will cease publishing damaging (but true) material on Bezos.
And let’s not forget. The Bezos story was already out. The facts were true. The photographs of Bezos’ private parts were definitely his. There was no question of libel, because when the facts are true, its not libelous. Embarrassing yes. But undeniably factual.
Bezos may have enemies, but he did this to himself
Is Donald Trump amused by Jeff Bezos’s troubles? Absolutely. Did the National Enquirer jump at the chance to print the story? Totally. Did either of them conspire to make Jeff Bezos cheat on his wife and send naked selfies. Absolutely not!
If anything, Bezos’ attempts to undermine AMI and interfere in their torts and contracts is far more egregious than the Enquirer covering a legitimate, if scandalous news story. The blackmail, if there even was any, was the world’s richest man’s overt attempt to dry up funding for AMI and Pecker from one the world’s most extensive sources of capital.
Bezos only has himself to blame
The Enquirer possessed damaging but true information on Bezos. It was Bezos who made the entire affair political. Bezos is tying his misconduct to the Saudis. It is Bezos who is dismissing his own responsibility for this scandal, and blaming a free press for his own problems.
It would seem that AMI and the Enquirer have as much legal grounds to pursue Bezos for interference in a business tort – alleging Bezos is purposely seeking to prevent AMI from getting financing – as Bezos does for attacking the Enquirer.
To accuse the Enquirer of covering Bezos’ messy divorce for political purposes is absurd. The sordid affair and divorce of the world’s richest man running the world’s biggest company is actual news. When the woman involved is the wife of the most powerful man in Hollywood, that is even bigger news. When they send naked selfies to each other, it’s off to the races.
Sorry Jeff. It’s not political. It’s news. The irony of the publisher of the Washington Post seeking to quash the coverage of his own scandals says as much about his own hypocrisy as it does about the First Amendment.
Bezos: Deflecting his own responsibility
Instead of pointing fingers and crying political conspiracy, Bezos should acknowledge some facts. He created this nightmare. His future brother in law apparently passed the material on to the Enquirer. They had every right to publish. Every news outlet on the planet covered the story.
But Bezos seeks to criminalize a series of email exchanges between lawyers, and make himself look like a victim. As far as I can see the only victim here, and the only long term winner in the whole greasy affair, is Jeff Bezos’ long suffering and soon to be ex wife. This has nothing to do with Trump. Maybe Jeff should just keep it in his pants in the future.
—Lead Image: Jeffrey Preston Bezos, aka Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com and the current owner of The Washington Post Company. This caricature of Eliot Jeff Bezos is based on a Creative Commons licensed photo from Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia.