Feb 8, 2019

2. Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion and blackmail

Photo: Emma McIntyre via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday published a lengthy Medium post alleging that the National Enquirer threatened to publish nude photos of him and Lauren Sanchez, a journalist with whom he was alleged to have had an affair.

Details: Bezos notes that David Pecker, the owner of the National Enquirer and its parent company AMI, is suspected of using the publication for political purposes. After the National Enquirer published intimate texts between Bezos and Sanchez, Bezos launched an investigation into the magazine's motives, including actions it has taken on behalf of the Trump administration and the Saudi government. This prompted an email from AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard — which Bezos posted — in which Howard described lewd photos of Bezos that the Enquirer had allegedly obtained during the course of its reporting.

  • Subsequent emails show the terms proposed by an attorney for the Enquirer: The magazine will agree not to publish texts or photos from Bezos in exchange for a public acknowledgement, "released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet," that AMI's coverage is "not influenced by political forces."

In Bezos' words:

"In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.
”If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie...
"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."

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll nears 11,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,900 in the U.S. early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus-related conditions each day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 1,347,892 — Total deaths: 74,808 — Total recoveries: 284,802Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 368,2441 — Total deaths: 10,989 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Docs: Navarro memos warning mass death circulated West Wing in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

  • By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Driving the news: Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - Health