When Covering Jeff Bezos, There’s No Love Between the New York Times and Washington Post

From two New York Times stories under one headline “Exclusive! Hot Love! Tabloids Embrace New Bezos”:

The first, by Karen Weiss, opens with:

When Jeff Bezos and his former wife, MacKenzie, celebrated what would be their last anniversary together around Labor Day 2018, they arrived at a Miami nightclub with no fanfare. His table was booked online, which is “totally what tourists do” and “totally dorky,” the club’s celebrity liaison said in an interview at the time.

Almost a year later, Mr. Bezos arrived at a hot Miami seafood restaurant in grander fashion, on a 90-foot-long Leopard superyacht in what The Miami Herald called “the most extravagant entrance ever.”

The second, by Jim Rutenberg and Michael Rothfeld, opens with:

Almost a year ago, Jeff Bezos hinted that Saudi Arabia had played a role in The National Enquirer’s 11-page exposé of his affair with the Los Angeles television personality Lauren Sanchez. In making the case in a post on the website Medium, Mr. Bezos noted that his newspaper, The Washington Post, had published the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi and had also covered the kingdom’s suspected role in his murder.

In the post, Mr. Bezos said he had retained the security expert Gavin de Becker to investigate how the tabloid had obtained his text messages. This week, a forensic analysis commissioned by Mr. Bezos was made public, and it concluded with “medium to high confidence” that his iPhone X had been hacked after he received a video from a WhatsApp message sent to him from an account reportedly belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, with whom the billionaire had swapped contacts at a dinner in Los Angeles.

From the Karen Weiss story:

At the beginning of 2019, Mr. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, was widely regarded as a low-key guy — or at least about as low-key as the world’s richest man, and one of the country’s top executives, could be. He’d geek out over “Star Trek” and he publicly joked that washing dishes every night was “the sexiest thing I do.”

That image exploded by the end of January, when The National Enquirer reported about his affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV personality, including contents of intimate text messages between the two. After the Enquirer reporting, Mr. Bezos said he had opened up an investigation into how the paper acquired the messages, hinting that Saudi Arabia may have been involved because of his ownership of The Washington Post. . . .

Jay Carney, Amazon’s spokesman, said Mr. Bezos remained much the same.

“In the senior leadership here, which includes some of the people who have known and worked with Jeff the longest, there is a lot of empathy for what he’s had to deal with and a lot of admiration for his remarkable ability to tune it out and focus on what matters,” Mr. Carney said.

Mr. Bezos remains deeply engaged with his work at Amazon and committed to the mission of The Washington Post, Mr. Carney said. “None of that has changed.”

From the Rutenberg-Rothfeld story:

After federal agents and prosecutors examined allegations of wrongdoing by American Media in connection with the Bezos story last year, the company provided evidence showing them that Ms. Sanchez had provided text messages and compromising photos of Mr. Bezos to her brother, who passed them along to the tabloid, according to four people with knowledge of the situation.

That does not preclude the possibility that Saudi Arabia could have sent other useful information to The Enquirer. Nor were Mr. Bezos and his investigators off-base in suspecting a possible link between the tabloid and the kingdom. American Media and Saudi Arabia had both tried to build relationships with Mr. Trump, and one way to the president’s heart could have been an attack on Mr. Bezos, whom Mr. Trump once referred to as “Jeff Bozo” in a Twitter post. . . .

In his Medium post, Mr. Bezos revealed that his team had received threatening emails from American Media’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, that described revealing photos of Mr. Bezos that the tabloid had yet to publish.

In the letter from Mr. Howard and a second letter from an American Media lawyer that Mr. Bezos included in his account, the company said that it would not publish the compromising selfies if Mr. Bezos publicly stated that he did not believe that the tabloid publisher was politically motivated in publishing the exposé.

Mr. Bezos called the offer “extortion and blackmail” in his Medium post. He added that he was motivated “to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” and Mr. de Becker went to work.

The evidence in the resulting report shows evidence of Saudi intrusions into his iPhone X. But a direct link from the kingdom to the tabloid tale remains elusive.


  1. Barnard Collier says

    O, what a tangled web we weave . . . . .

Speak Your Mind