'Now the reality is hitting them, and they're freaking out': The National Enquirer's former LA bureau chief says the tabloid is in over its head with Jeff Bezos

CNNJerry George, the former Los Angeles bureau chief of the National Enquirer.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday published an extraordinary blog post alleging an “extortion and blackmail” plot by American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer.
  • In an interview with CNN, Jerry George, the tabloid’s former Los Angeles bureau chief, described the feud as “baffling.”
  • George said he thought that in trying to blackmail Bezos, the Enquirer might have taken things too far and acted prematurely.

Jerry George, the former Los Angeles bureau chief of the National Enquirer, told CNN on Thursday night that the feud between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and American Media Inc., the publisher of the tabloid, was “baffling.”

In a blog post published Thursday, Bezos said he launched an investigation led by his security chief, Gavin de Becker, into the origins of the tabloid’s exposé last month of an affair between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a TV news anchor.

Citing emails from AMI that he included in the post, Bezos alleged an “extortion and blackmail” plot by AMI that involved threatening to publish compromising personal photos of Bezos unless he quashed the investigation.

“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 said.

Read more: People are praising Jeff Bezos and calling him a ‘genius’ after he slammed the National Enquirer and accused them of blackmail in a shocking blog post

George told CNN he thought the media company might have taken things too far and acted prematurely in its fight with the world’s richest man.

“I think they thought they were smarter than they are, and I think now the reality is hitting them, and they’re freaking out,” he said.

George described AMI’s threats as “nothing short of extortion” and said it “looks like a crime.”

The Amazon CEO also appeared to hint in his blog post that AMI had political motivations. The owner of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump, has been accused of purchasing the rights to stories about Trump-related scandals to bury them.

Trump has also regularly railed against Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, for its reporting on his presidency.

George suggested a correlation among Trump, Bezos, and AMI and Pecker.

“For years, Donald Trump has had a hard-on for Bezos,” George said. “Professional jealousy, the acquisition of Amazon … so it’s no surprise that he turned to his good buddy David Pecker at the Enquirer to do a hatchet job on him.”

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