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Bezos’s head-on challenge of National Enquirer is right call

The ongoing war between President Trump and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and owner of Washington Post, is one not-so-ironically being fought in the media. The president isn’t on the front lines on this one, of course; instead, American Media Inc, the parent of the famed (or infamous) National Enquirer is attempting to blow Bezos’s personal integrity into oblivion. 
According to Bezos, AMI is trying to extort him. And since this is Washington, it is attempting to do so through nude photos of the richest man in the world. (He is valued at $135 billion, thanks mostly to Amazon.) 
{mosads}Most of you have seen this movie up until this point: The president believes Bezos and the Washington Post are among his biggest adversaries. Just as big as special counsel Robert Mueller or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or CNN, thanks to the Post’s overwhelmingly negative coverage of him and his administration. The president has made his sentiment toward Bezos and Amazon abundantly clear. 

“Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers,” Trump tweeted in August 2017. “Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!”  

But Bezos chose a much different, almost unheard-of approach in taking AMI and the Enquirer head on through an unfiltered blog post on Medium titled, “No thank you, Mr. Pecker.” 

“Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first,” Bezos wrote. “I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.” 

Bezos then went so far as to share a letter written to him by Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of AMI. The letter lays out in specific detail what kinds of photos AMI said it possessed of Bezos and his alleged mistress. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage.    

“A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen” is one of several photo descriptions Howard provided. “A below the belt selfie” is another. 

“It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly,” Howard concludes, without specifically stating what “common sense” is supposed to lead to. 
So Bezos had essentially two options: Handle the matter privately, or burn the whole place down in a noble, selfless act that possibly exposed himself to being exposed. He chose the latter — and didn’t just release a static statement written by a lawyer or communications expert but, instead, a from-the-heart explanation, complete with the letter he received from AMI that had to be humiliating to absorb initially. 
Writing a blog is the correct call. It is, ironically, a Trumpian move to avoid the so-called media filter and go directly to the people, in the most candid way possible. 
And in doing so, it exposes what kind of tactics AMI is choosing to deploy here that have almost nothing to do with journalism but, rather, represents the politics of personal destruction under the guise of journalism.  
The New York Post put it best on its front cover on Friday: “Bezos Exposes Pecker.” 
Yup. That about sums it up. 
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill and co-host of “WOR Tonight with Joe Concha and Lis Wiehl” weeknights on 710-WOR in New York.
Tags Amazon Donald Trump Jeff Bezos Joe Concha Nancy Pelosi National Enquirer Robert Mueller Washington Post

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