Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion

The Amazon CEO took to Medium to publicly accuse the National Enquirer of a blackmail and extortion plot involving compromising photographs.
5:44 | 02/08/19

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Transcript for Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion
We'll begin with that bombshell from Jeff bezos accusing a media giant of trying to blackmail him with compromising photos. He counterattacked in public and linsey Davis starts us off with the de Reporter: A bold move here by the richest man in the world. He said ex-coast me? No, I'll expose you. He's publishing tell bhails he says are from Ami as proof. This morning, Jeff bezos, the richest man in the world is taking on a media titan. In a bombshell blog post, the billionaire accuses Ami, the publisher of "The national enquirer" of blackmail and extortion. According to bezos, Ami threatened to publish embarrassing intimate photos of the Amazon founder unless he stopped his investigation into just H "The national enquirer" obtained text messages between bezos and his reported girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. Thosesages splashed across the page of "The enquirer" after he and his wife announced they were getting a divorce. Ami called the claims defamation. Bezos writing, of course, I don't want personal photos published but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favor, political attacks and corruption. Also noting the publication had the confidence to put their so-called threats in writing and shared an alleged email sent from Ami's chief content officer describing multiple personal photos they had obtained of bezos including a below the belt selfie. Several suggestive photos of Sanchez and one of bezos wearing nothing but a white towel and wedding ring. Bezos who is worth a reported $137 billion wrote, if in my on I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? "The national enquirer" has long been known for its shocking headlines and salacious scoops over the years. Now, bezos who is also the owner of "The Washington post" says "The national enquirs reporting on his personal life may be politically motivated. Referencing pecker's reported attempts to expand his business to Saudi Arabia and pointing to the Ami chief's close relationship with the president who has reportedly mocked bezos as Jeff bozo on Twitter and made light of his pending divorce. The tabloid and its parent company are run by David pecker, a longtime friend of president trump. Last year Ami reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity. They got O.J., they got Edwards. They got this -- I mean, if that was "The New York Times" they would have gotten pulitzer prizes for their reporting. Reporter: The company admitted to so-called catch and kill tactics at the direction of members of trump's campaign, paying thousands of dollars for the rights to stories that could be damaging to the then candidate and making them disappear. And overnight journalistonan farrow tweeted that he and at least one other prominent journalist also received threats of blackmail from Ami and said they were targeted while working on stories about "The national enquirer"'s arrangement with trump. We reached out but did not hear back. Law, media, perfect. The perfect person to talk about it, Dan Abrams. The story is just amazing. Let's start out. We saw what's in Jeff bezos letter. Under federal extortion law you need a threat and be demanding something of value. A question as to whether this was an overt specific threat or just a sugstion and question of whether it was of something of value and Ami's, if they were going to publish something false in "Washington post," we were trying to negotiate this and this was all part of the negotiation so there is a line here and the question is did they cross it? There's possible Tate crimes in New York it's a little easier to prosecute. The other legal twist, remember, David pecker was cooperating against president trump in that campaign finance case, the payoffs to Karen Mcdougal, stormy Daniels, does that complicate that? If there's a crime, yes. So, one of the conditions of his agreement is that they would not commit another crime. If it is determined that this was a crime, this could be a huge problem for his cooperation agreement but, again, that brings us back to question one which is is it a crime, would they prosecute? You know, again, I think it's a close call. So let's go to the media side of it. Bezos is basically daring "The national enquirer" to publish those photos. What happens next? I think there's still copyright issues which he mention, the person who takes a picture owns the copyright to the photo. There's an exception called fair use which means if it's newsworthy, something that is worth commenting on that's important enough and American media would say, for example, that him taking a picture of himself in a business meeting could be newsworthy. I don't know that that's an easy argument but that's a civil issue, not criminal, and about money damage, not about prosecution, but I think there will be hesitation on their part. The other thing bezos throws out, multiple other independent investigations going on of "The national enquirer." And now you have to ask yourself is there going to be a larger investigation into Ami's practices from a criminal perspective. Ronan farrow talking about those threats he got as well, Dan Abrams, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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