- Jeff Bezos has accused American Media Inc. of attempting to blackmail him.
- Bezos suggested this alleged effort may have been politically motivated and referenced a connection to Saudi Arabia several times.
- Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has been leading coverage of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Khashoggi was a columnist for the Post before he was brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last October.
In his bombshell Medium post on Thursday, Jeff Bezos seemed to allege there's an unsavory connection between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer.
Bezos accused AMI of "extortion and blackmail," claiming it threatened to publish naked photos of him.
The National Enquirer in January 2019 released an exposé on Bezos' affair with the former news anchor and helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez. Subsequently, the billionaire owner of Amazon and the Washington Post launched an investigation into how the tabloid obtained intimate information on his relationship with Sanchez. He alleges that AMI attempted to blackmail him into ceasing the inquiry.
Bezos in his post suggests that AMI's investigation may have been politically motivated and also points to a connection between Saudi Arabia and AMI.
AMI's owner, David Pecker, has close ties to President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post has been at the forefront of coverage on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for the Post before he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last October.
In his post, Bezos alludes to all of this: "AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called 'Catch and Kill' process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government."
Bezos later added, "Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is 'apoplectic' about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve."
The billionaire also said that his ownership of the Post is "a complexifier for me" adding that it's "unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy."
Bezos then suggested Trump is "one of those people" and contended the Post's "essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles."
In discussing Saudi Arabia, Bezos offered a number of links on Pecker's relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, rejected any involvement in the feud between AMI and Bezos.
On Friday, al-Jubeir told reporters, "I doubt it. I doubt it. We don’t have any dealings with — as far as I know, flat no."
AMI has also rejected the notion that its reporting has been motivated by politics in any way.
In his post, Bezos links to an April 2018 article from the Associated Press that a magazine published by AMI with a flattering profile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was "quietly shared with officials at the Saudi Embassy" several weeks before it hit newsstands. AMI has denied the claims in this report.
Bezos also linked to an April 2018 article from The New York Times that claimed Trump rewarded Pecker's longtime loyalty by inviting him to a dinner at the White House "to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia." A separate March 2018 report from The Times alleged Pecker had been "wooing Saudi business" at the time.
Relatedly, as US lawmakers have responded to Khashoggi's killing in recent months, some have questioned whether Trump's business ties in Saudi Arabia have inspired him to avoid being too hard on the royal family over the incident. Prince Mohammed is believed to be responsible for Khashoggi's killing, but Trump has so far avoiding pointing his finger at the Saudi leader.