U.S. NEWS

Ronan Farrow Says Jeff Bezos Isn't The Only One AMI Tried To Blackmail

Farrow's allegation comes after the Amazon CEO accused tabloid publisher American Media Inc. of blackmail and extortion.

Journalist Ronan Farrow said tabloid publisher American Media Inc. sent him blackmail threats over his reporting on President Donald Trump and the National Enquirer.

Farrow tweeted about the “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” efforts shortly after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in a bombshell blog post on Medium, said AMI CEO David Pecker threatened to publish embarrassing photos of him if he didn’t stop investigating the company.  

Farrow has written extensively about AMI’s “catch and kill” practice, in which the publisher buys stories in order to bury them, and how such measures benefited Pecker’s pal, Donald Trump, in the 2016 presidential campaign. AMI has entered into a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in New York and is cooperating in the investigation into its payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress a story about her claimed affair with Trump. 

Farrow also tweeted a reference to a New Yorker story he worked on about how the same editor Bezos was dealing with ― AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard ― was sharing reporters’ information with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to help him combat sexual misconduct accusations.

AMI said in a statement Friday that it will investigate Bezos’ claims and determine what action to take.

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him,” the company said. 

Investigative journalist Ted Bridis said on Twitter Thursday that Associated Press reporters working on the Trump-National Enquirer story had been warned that AMI private investigators were digging into their backgrounds, though he “never saw evidence of this” and it didn’t affect his reporting. 

Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman also tweeted that his publication and a member of staff had been threatened by AMI attorneys over their stories reporting that Bezos’ investigator, Gavin de Becker, suspected that the leak of Bezos’ personal texts to the National Enquirer was politically motivated.

De Becker, in an interview with The Washington Post published Feb. 5, said the leak appeared meant to embarrass Bezos, owner of the Post and a frequent target of Trump’s criticism. 

Bezos, in his blog post, alleges that Howard threatened to publish intimate photos if the Amazon founder didn’t cease his investigation and make a statement that AMI’s coverage wasn’t politically motivated.

Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced their divorce about a month ago, just before the Enquirer published a story that included personal texts that said Bezos was having an affair with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos published the email exchange with AMI, concluding: “These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”

This article has been updated to include AMI’s statement.

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