Home SWAGGAR HEALTH & FITNESS Will Bezos Dust-Up Cause Trouble For National Enquirer’s Publisher?

Will Bezos Dust-Up Cause Trouble For National Enquirer’s Publisher?

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American Media Inc. has gotten into one legal scrap after another over the decades from its bogus National Enquirer stories on celebrities that triggered libel lawsuits. Nothing, though, quite prepared the company for Jeff Bezos.

The founder of Amazon.com, who also owns the Washington Post, took the highly unusual step Thursday of releasing emails executives from AMI demanding that Bezos call off an investigation he launched to determine how his personal emails to his mistress wound up in the tabloid. AMI threatened to release incriminating photos of the tycoon unless he cooperated with the company.

Quid-pro-quos between the AMI and the Hollywood celebrities that it covers are common, which is why Bezos’ decision to fight back is so unusual. Golfer Tiger Woods, for instance, agreed to pose for the cover for AMI’s Men’s Fitness magazine in exchange for the Enquirer canceling a story about an affair it discovered he was having. Woods extramarital relationships, however, later became public knowledge, ending his marriage.

“He’s the only one who seems to have the balls to stand up to them,” said Stu Zakim, a former AMI spokesman, in an interview, referring to Bezos. “They outed him. They exposed him, so took the right approach because he had nothing else to lose. The leverage that they always had is that if you don’t cooperate with us, we are going to publish.”

According to Joshua Kroon, a vice president at Levick, a crisis communications public relations firm, high-profile people caught in a similar predicament to Bezos tend to hunker down and say as little as possible.

“We advise clients to run to the light, tell your story first, tell it completely,” Kroon said. “Leave no room for that other proverbial shoe to drop.

For its part, AMI denied blackmailing Bezos but nonetheless said it was going to investigate the claims. A spokesman for the New York-based publisher didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

 Bezos has raised the possibility that AMI colluded with the government of Saudi Arabia, which has been furious of the Post’s coverage of the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to Bloomberg, the Saudi government denies any link with AMI. The publisher wanted Bezos to release a statement indicating that its reporting was free of political considerations.

Bezos’ claims may land AMI in hot water with federal prosecutors who agreed not last year not to prosecute the company for its role in paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims that she had an affair with President Donald Trump, ahead of the Presidential election. Trump denies the claim.

According to the Wall Street Journal, American Media could be subject to federal prosecution if it commits any crimes in the three years after the deal though it isn’t clear whether AMI committed a crime in its dealings with Bezos.

Otherwise, Bezos may find it difficult to pursue further legal action against AMI. Since the claims made in the Enquirer story are true, he would have to pursue a claim of invasion of privacy rather than libel, which is difficult for public figures to prove.

“The $64 dollar question is whether AMI could make that claim go away on the basis of newsworthiness,” said Charles Glasser, a media attorney who also is an adjunct professor at New York University and the City University of New York, in an interview. “(Bezos) would have an uphill fight there is no question about that. People who think he has no recourse at all need to be reminded that Gawker thought the same thing.”

Gawker was forced into bankruptcy and shut down after losing a lawsuit against former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan that was settled in 2016 for $31 million for an invasion of privacy.

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American Media Inc. has gotten into one legal scrap after another over the decades from its bogus National Enquirer stories on celebrities that triggered libel lawsuits. Nothing, though, quite prepared the company for Jeff Bezos.

The founder of Amazon.com, who also owns the Washington Post, took the highly unusual step Thursday of releasing emails executives from AMI demanding that Bezos call off an investigation he launched to determine how his personal emails to his mistress wound up in the tabloid. AMI threatened to release incriminating photos of the tycoon unless he cooperated with the company.

Quid-pro-quos between the AMI and the Hollywood celebrities that it covers are common, which is why Bezos’ decision to fight back is so unusual. Golfer Tiger Woods, for instance, agreed to pose for the cover for AMI’s Men’s Fitness magazine in exchange for the Enquirer canceling a story about an affair it discovered he was having. Woods extramarital relationships, however, later became public knowledge, ending his marriage.

“He’s the only one who seems to have the balls to stand up to them,” said Stu Zakim, a former AMI spokesman, in an interview, referring to Bezos. “They outed him. They exposed him, so took the right approach because he had nothing else to lose. The leverage that they always had is that if you don’t cooperate with us, we are going to publish.”

According to Joshua Kroon, a vice president at Levick, a crisis communications public relations firm, high-profile people caught in a similar predicament to Bezos tend to hunker down and say as little as possible.

“We advise clients to run to the light, tell your story first, tell it completely,” Kroon said. “Leave no room for that other proverbial shoe to drop.

For its part, AMI denied blackmailing Bezos but nonetheless said it was going to investigate the claims. A spokesman for the New York-based publisher didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

 Bezos has raised the possibility that AMI colluded with the government of Saudi Arabia, which has been furious of the Post’s coverage of the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to Bloomberg, the Saudi government denies any link with AMI. The publisher wanted Bezos to release a statement indicating that its reporting was free of political considerations.

Bezos’ claims may land AMI in hot water with federal prosecutors who agreed not last year not to prosecute the company for its role in paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims that she had an affair with President Donald Trump, ahead of the Presidential election. Trump denies the claim.

According to the Wall Street Journal, American Media could be subject to federal prosecution if it commits any crimes in the three years after the deal though it isn’t clear whether AMI committed a crime in its dealings with Bezos.

Otherwise, Bezos may find it difficult to pursue further legal action against AMI. Since the claims made in the Enquirer story are true, he would have to pursue a claim of invasion of privacy rather than libel, which is difficult for public figures to prove.

“The $64 dollar question is whether AMI could make that claim go away on the basis of newsworthiness,” said Charles Glasser, a media attorney who also is an adjunct professor at New York University and the City University of New York, in an interview. “(Bezos) would have an uphill fight there is no question about that. People who think he has no recourse at all need to be reminded that Gawker thought the same thing.”

Gawker was forced into bankruptcy and shut down after losing a lawsuit against former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan that was settled in 2016 for $31 million for an invasion of privacy.

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