This is why Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and The Nationwide Enquirer’s father or mother firm are in a public feud over allegations of blackmail and extortion.
A lawyer for Nationwide Enquirer proprietor American Media Inc.’s CEO defended the company’s correspondence with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saying AMI did nothing unlawful.
“It completely will not be extortion and never blackmail,” Elkan Abramowitz, lawyer for AMI CEO David Pecker, mentioned Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
His feedback got here after Bezos published a blog post Thursday accusing AMI of trying to blackmail him with threats to publish a trove of embarrassing pictures, together with a few of a sexual nature.
The conflict adopted the Enquirer’s earlier publication of a report on Bezos’ breakup together with his spouse and his romantic relationship with former Los Angeles information anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos on Thursday posted emails through which AMI representatives supplied to withhold publication of the embarrassing pictures in change for Bezos acknowledging that the tabloid proprietor had no political motivation for publishing its unique expose. Pecker has supported Donald Trump, and Trump has repeatedly criticized Bezos, who owns The Washington Put up.
“That’s not extortion as a result of all that AMI needed was the reality,” Abramowitz advised “This Week,” including that the corporate was making a “information resolution” and that the Bezos correspondence “was a part of a respectable negotiation.”
AMI representatives declined to remark additional Sunday on Abramowitz’s remarks.
Among the many accusations Bezos made was that Pecker and AMI have murky ties to the Saudi Arabian authorities, doubtlessly by way of a pro-Saudi publication launched in 2018.
“The Saudi angle appears to hit a very delicate nerve,” Bezos wrote.
The Bezos allegations got here after AMI signed a non-prosecution settlement with the U.S. attorneys in reference to the federal government’s investigation into Trump’s presidential marketing campaign.
If AMI is discovered to have dedicated a criminal offense, the corporate wouldn’t be resistant to prosecution, mentioned Michael Conway, a lawyer who has represented media organizations such because the New York Occasions and ABC, and now teaches at Northwestern College’s Medill Faculty of Journalism.
Conway mentioned the AMI correspondence “actually has the weather of blackmail,” which might “blow up” the corporate’s cope with the federal government.
Abramowitz mentioned he is “completely not” involved that the Bezos revelations may have an effect on that settlement.
Stuart Karle, a former Dow Jones lawyer and Reuters government who teaches media legislation at Columbia College’s Graduate Faculty of Journalism, mentioned the scenario is fraught with peril for American Media. However he mentioned “it appears unlikely to me that no matter occurred right here” would “destroy” the corporate.
“There are a number of steps between this type of correspondence and a proper felony cost,” he mentioned.
Nevertheless, “firms will be destroyed by felony prices” or will be pressured right into a sale to repay liabilities in civil circumstances, he added.
Comply with USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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