Jeff Bezos said the National Enquirer tried to 'blackmail' him. Ronan Farrow and other reporters say he's not alone.

  • Several journalists said that American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, tried to ward them off from reporting on the company’s relationship with President Donald Trump.
  • The news follows Jeff Bezos‘s disclosure that AMI threatened him with “extortion and blackmail” after he hired an investigator to look into the company.
  • Journalist Ronan Farrow, The Daily Beast, and an editor at the Associated Press all allege that AMI tried to threaten them to stop their reporting.
  • Noah Shachtman, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, told INSIDER he wasn’t “going to be bullied by low-lifes and it’s great to see that Bezos wasn’t either.”

Journalist and New Yorker contributor Ronan Farrow said that American Media, Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer, tried to blackmail him while he reported on the company’s relationship with President Donald Trump. Trump and AMI’s CEO David Pecker have a longstanding close relationship, and Trump views Bezos as a rival and often criticises him on Twitter.

Farrow’s disclosure of the alleged threat follows Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s claim that AMI tried to extort him over a set of compromising photos. AMI wanted Bezos to halt his investigation into how and why the National Enquirer published an expose about his relationship with his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, Bezos said. AMI also wanted Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, to stop the post from investigating the company’s ties to Saudi Arabia, according to Bezos.

Farrow was one among several journalists to come forward to allege that AMI had simlilarly attempted to “blackmail” him.

“I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI,” Farrow wrote on Twitter. “I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.”

In April 2018, Farrow published an article in the New Yorker that outlines how the National Enquirer gave Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney at the time, the opportunity to kill stories about Trump before they were published. According to Farrow’s reporting, Trump, through Cohen, paid the company off to silence the stories in a process called “catch and kill.” Harvey Weinstein allegedly had a similar arrangement with AMI to keep unflattering stories about him out of the news for decades, according to the New Tork Times. Farrow is writing a book about the subject.

Through a representative, Farrow declined to comment.

According to copies of the emails Bezos said he received from AMI, the company threatened to publish lurid photos of Bezos and Sanchez unless he stopped investigating them.

Farrow isn’t the only journalist to report threats from AMI: The company also threatened the Daily Beast, which ran several stories on Bezos’s investigation into AMI.

Noah Shachtman, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, said they weren’t cowed.

“We weren’t going to be bullied by low-lifes and it’s great to see that Bezos wasn’t either,” Shachtman told INSIDER.

Lachlan Markey, a reporter at the Daily Beast who published a series of stories about Bezos’s investigation into the National Enquirer, wrote in an article Thursday alleging “The Daily Beast and a member of its staff were threatened by AMI’s attorneys” while reporting on those stories.

And Lachlan Cartwright, a former executive editor at the National Enquirer and a current editor and reporter at the Daily Beast, said on Twitter Saturday that he “was threatened with a $US5m lawsuit by a major media organisation hoping to kill a story,” which many believe was likely AMI.

According to The Washington Post, AMI tried to disabuse The Daily Beast from the notion that allies of President Trump were involved in the company’s reports about the Bezos affair. A draft legal complaint from AMI, viewed by the Post, “threatened to sue the Daily Beast if it used any information provided by a former Enquirer executive who had been hired by the website.”

AMI also allegedly tried to stop reporting from the Associated Press about the company’s connection to Trump. Ted Bridis, a former editor at the AP, said on Twitter that people working at AMI told him that the company hired private investigators to look into the reporters’ backgrounds.

In a statement to Business Insider, AMI said it “acted lawfully” in its interactions with Bezos.

A receptionist for AMI hung up when told they were being reached by a reporter. Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to additional requests for comment.

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