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Image: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Jeff Bezos made headlines back in 2019 when he posted on Medium that he had been having an affair with a married TV journalist and that he was writing about it because the National Enquirer had photos and was trying to blackmail him.

But there was far more to the story, as Bloomberg journalist Brad Stone details in his forthcoming book "Amazon Unbound," an excerpt of which is being published today by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Zoom in: While the Medium post was a master stroke in shifting the broader narrative, Bezos used a personal appeal to Amazon executives to convince his team that he remained firmly in control.In the excerpt, Stone details how Bezos explained the whole affair, if you will, to Amazon executives during a lengthy Feb. 14, 2019 meeting that ran so long that it cut into executives' Valentine's Day plans.

  • Bezos' Medium post had accused the Enquirer of trying to extort him and linked the tabloid publisher to political figures hostile to him, including Saudi Arabian leaders upset with how The Washington Post — which Bezos owns — covered the murder of its reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
  • "All of this is very distracting, so thank you for being focused on the business," Bezos told the executives, as he turned from explaining his personal life to managing the corporate head count.

Between the lines: The incident shows Bezos' skill at owning the narrative, using the same skills he typically applies to Amazon product launches to protecting one of the company's most valuable assets — Bezos' reputation.

Yes, but: As Stone highlights, Bezos was actually beginning the process of loosening his once vise-like grip on Amazon, a move that would eventually lead Bezos to hand the reins to Andy Jassy, the longtime head of Amazon Web Services.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Gottlieb: CDC hampered U.S. response to COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The CDC moved too slowly at several points in the coronavirus pandemic, ultimately hindering the U.S. response, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes in a new book, Uncontrolled Spread.

The big picture: The book argues that American intelligence agencies should have a much bigger role in pandemic preparedness, even if that's sometimes at the expense of public health agencies like the CDC.

911's digital makeover

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A next-generation 911 would allow the nation's 6,000 911 centers to accept texts, videos and photos.

The big picture: U.S. emergency communications have remained stubbornly analog, but Congress is about to take another run at dragging 911 into the digital age.

Biden enlists business leaders in campaign for vax mandates

President Joe Biden at a meeting with business leaders Sept. 15, 2021. Photo: Oliver Contretas/Getty Images

President Biden convened a meeting of top business leaders Wednesday to build support for a sweeping vaccine mandate that will affect most of America's workers. The message: Vaccines work, and the stalled uptake is holding back the economy.

Why it matters: As vaccine rates have flattened across the country, business leaders have the power to impact their employees’ decisions. Many corporate leaders had been looking for stronger federal guidance to lean on.