Attempt to blackmail the richest man on the planet, WCGW?
I'm looking at the Amazon logo in a different light now.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos today published an extraordinary open letter claiming National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI) is trying to blackmail him by threatening to leak purloined pics of the billionaire's "semi-erect manhood." In effect, the zillionaire tech baron has shot back, publicly revealing descriptions of his …
I think that's the interesting question: how did they get them? Bezos is presumably at least slightly competent and very well-advised (pr expensively-advised, anyway) about security, so how did this stuff leak? Assuming he was competent, what sort of organisation is that good at getting access to communications?
Reminding me of when Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) asks something along the lines of:
"So, you believe ... one of the wealthiest and most powerful men on the planet... is a vigilante who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands and your plan is to blackmail him?"
They'll claim "freedom of the press", and they know they have their President in their corner, at least until the lying, unethical scumbag ends up in jail. Just as the folks at the National Enquirer should, but never will, because society seems OK with unethical, psychopathic behaviour.
Most public figures over here detest the Irrational Enquirer and their ilk over. At best they tolerate them. However a few have decided to nail the scum and have won easy and large judgments. The slimes who make the typical Yank yellow journalism look positively great have a long and disreputable history of publishing purloined photos and the like with stories with rather dubious sourcing.
John Edwards is a guy that was running for president and unless you are the current president, then taint of scandal, or outright scandal, is usually going to crash and burn your campaign. Bezos is a multi-billionaire that owns a real newspaper and enough money to crush the NE under a small fraction of a percent of it if dumped on their building in $20's.
Besides, in this day and age, revealing photos are what made the internet, just like adult movies made the home vcr market popular. More people would be searching for the pics than acting shocked (as seems to be the case - ho hum). This feels like the 7th grade bully trying to push around the all-star tackle for the high school football team. It never ends well for the dumb bully.
Bullshit, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. They aren't journalists, they are grifters, hackers and other criminal types who may occasionally run across a real story totally by accident.
They illegally obtained Bezos' private photos, which he or his girlfriend owns the copyright to, so he should sue them for $150,000 per picture times all the issues they sold containing those pictures. If we are going to have shitty copyright law it might as well be used for good and exterminate the cockroach of the grocery store checkout line! That's probably an easier way to bankrupt them than going after them for blackmail.
The best part is that the immunity deal Mueller made for Pecker's testimony requires that the National Enquirer has to abstain from the types of illegal conduct they admitted to in the deal as of the date on that deal. Since this blackmail attempt is after that the date of that agreement, now the feds can go after Pecker and the National Enquirer for all the things they admitted to. Oops!
They'll claim "freedom of the press"...
If they'd just printed the photos, they could claim "freedom of the press". But when they say "If you don't do what we want, we'll print these photos" it's difficult to argue that this is anything other than blackmail. And yes, I hope that the blackmailing scum goes to prison for a long time.
There have been suggestions that US security services obtained the communications at the direction of the Trump administration, which is hostile to Mr Bezos and his support for the Washington Post. If so, they could conceivably have been passed to the White House or a Trump friendly person who forwarded them to the National Inquirer.
There are strong indications it was Bezos' girlfriend's brother. Apparently he's very pro-Trump with personal connections to some of the really shady people in Trump's orbit like Roger Stone and Rick Gates. So at best he was acting on his own going after Bezos thinking he was helping Trump. Of course it could be a lot worse than that, Trump's feelings about Bezos and the WaPo are well known and he's been friends with Pecker for years...
IANAL but maybe it depends on how careful they were with their wording and whether there was recordings of the original verbal conversation.
I could (to my untrained eye) see an arguable difference between: "we're running a story on Monday with these embarrassing pics, however we're prepared to go quid pro quo and drop that story if you do xyz" and "If you don't do xyz we're going to publish some embarrassing photos about you".
The latter seems like a clear case of blackmail, the former seems like a case of 'negotiation' and editorial judgment.
Looking at the original e-mail on medium it doesn't have any details about the actual conversation but it doesn't look like a careful approach so I would be worried if there was phone recordings.
In the UK either approach would be trouble for the Enquirer, especially post-Leveson. However I don't think it really matters in this case. Just the publicity about the tactics that the Enquirer uses is enough to harm their reputation (or enhance it depending on your feelings about the rag). It's still a win for Bezos as it has created way more publicity for his theories about their motives and added legitimacy to his investigation.
Well it would have to go to court to find out. However the former is what has happened for all time in the newspaper industry and it depends on the wording. It's how Max Clifford became so powerful and famous (before his fall from grace). A newspaper would be running a story about one of his clients but he would negotiate with them to drop the story in return for a better story about someone else who wasn't his client.
It all depends how careful they were with their wording and how a discussion came around to the subject of what it would take to drop the story. Assuming these pics could legally be publisher in the US anyway. In the UK they wouldn't be able to be published in the first place.
Presumably (although IANAL either) if they told the guy they were going to publish and that was that, it's not blackmail even if he then proposes some deal and they agree not to publish.
Whereas if *they* propose a deal not to publish it is indistinguishable from blackmail.
It's dangerous trying to predict what the courts would do.
A simple reading of the federal law against blackmail - USC 18 section 873, which is quite terse - suggests that it's only blackmail if the threat is to inform [whom? anyone?] about "a violation of any law of the United States". Here the threat was to inform the public of potentially-embarrassing information; AMI aren't claiming (as far as I can see) that the new revelations would show Bezos breaking any law.
On the other hand, in the US, it's widely accepted that everyone is breaking the law all the time, thanks to many poorly-defined laws. So a prosecutor might be able to stretch this into blackmail that way, though I'd hope a judge would be reluctant to allow that.
Bezos has explicitly called it a blackmail attempt. AMI has explicitly called it "good faith negotiations", their understanding of "good faith" being extremely liberal.
Perhaps more interesting is speculation that this is a violation of the agreement AMI reached with federal prosecutors some months back, giving them immunity from prosecution for possible misconduct during the Trump campaign in exchange for their cooperation. So it's possible the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York will open an investigation on those grounds.
Of course this won't change anyone's opinion of AMI - Trumpists like them, most other people who pay attention don't, and the tabloid-reading masses just want their fix. Bezos probably gains some net approval, just because people like seeing someone show a little backbone and stick it to a bully. AMI and the Enquirer might get fined or a similar slap, and it's conceivable that one or more lawyers might get sanctioned.
Perhaps, but it seems that the laws against extortion would unambiguously apply. Extortion is covered under multiple statutes, but here's one that seems on the money:
18 U.S. Code § 875. Interstate communications, paragraph D:
"Whoever, with intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
"Isn't blackmail against the law in the US?"
Yes, it is. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
One complicating factor is the fact that the owner of AMI is also a very close associate of Trump and has used their influence to support and protect him. Trump may have AMI's back on this.
I normally cannot abide the ultra wealthy/ celebrity and their scandals- it’s a waste of time and effort in today’s hyper PC atmosphere where anyone can be acused of anything, judged, tried without context, and hung by a envious public and more often than not absolutely deserve it. I’m just a lowly IT drone and I’m sure someone could find some long forgotten dirt that would hold me incapable of ever wielding admin privileges again (like the time I was 19, and wiped out a company’s Exchange store because I deleted all files named *.log before they were backed up, and the massive 7.2GB drive was crammed full. A delightful “Who, Me?” tale if ever there was one).
You might consider it scandal burn-out. Nothing surprises me any more. NPR ran a piece covering the NYT with the headline “We’ve almost lost the ability to be shocked,” though this was in regards to his Great Greatness, and not the world in general (I obviously apply it to the world in general). I feel the same way. The only thing that has surprised me lately is when a resolute Jayme Closs managed to rescue herself after 3-months captivity, and the murdering of her parents. I was further shocked that Minnesota based Hormel foods vowed to honor their bounty for her safe return by awarding it to her.
That, my friends takes balls. Not reporting on the affairs of billionaires or being a Teflon billionaire and deciding to fight such stories with the resources of a small nation. A tycoon having an affair is practically tradition. The only one I can think of in the past 100 years that might be innocent of such sin is Bill Gates, and I’m sure he is either waiting for the shoe to drop, or it will be revealed he’s still technically a virgin and that Pecker couldn’t write a puff- piece about Old Bill despite all his buggery in the industry.
I thought the National Enquirer was more an attempt at light entertainment rather than having anything to do with mainstream journalism?
Or has the post-truth world moved all the other US media outlets down to a level where “XXX is actually an alien” is considered to be just as likely to be accurate as 90% of the content they’re exposed to?
I have no doubt that Mr Bezos cheated on Mrs Bezos and I hope she gets a more than fair proportion of their mutual estate. However, I have no interest in seeing “big Jeff”... Even if I wanted to judge if I should invest in Amazon...
They've changed quite a bit in the last 20 years or so. Use to be just a scandal rag and yellow journalism with a lot of made up stories or actual stories that were sensationalized. They were "entertainment" but for a different time, different world. Somewhere they've decided to take themselves a bit more seriously. This claim of "pay us or we publish" is something new for them I think. They used to love being sued because any publicity is good publicity.
It's a common practice for that kind of "press". Maybe they won't tell you "pay or we publish", it could be something along the lines of "some images entered into our possession, you could be interested in buying them....". This behaviour could also "buy" friends among those with some power, and unwillingly to see their dirty laundry exposed.
What a poor excuse for a soul Pecker has. He probably goes into his vault of blackmail to get off. Too bad he signed an agreement with federal prosecutors. He might not get prosecuted for blackmail but computer crimes and possession of stolen materials could still get him trouble in three jurisdictions, two state plus federal and his company promised not to be involved in any crimes for three years on his agreement. "Bat Boy" may finally be avenged for being slandered.
..has always been a shit worthless rag that makes its living publishing "authentic" photos of bigfoot, UFOs, whatever conspiracy theories can be invented by its 3rd-rate "journalists", and invasive paparazzi-sourced photos and stories, pandering to the unwashed masses on the lowest end of the bell curve, that apparently can (barely) read, somewhat. If it disappeared off the face of the Earth, we'd all be better for it. I wonder how many lifetimes it takes to pay back the Karma that Pecker has incurred? What a waste of DNA he is. Since I don't read the Enquirer, I didn't know that they were such staunch Trump supporters, but it doesn't surprise me in the slightest, knowing the double-digit IQ populace that is its demographic and reader base. (slowly mouthing the words as they sound them out)
It depends. Activities with journalistic merit have a much wide leeway than purely for-profit activities. In any case, this isn't that -- they didn't publish this information, so they can't have broken that law no matter what. Instead, they decided to engage in blackmail/extortion, which isn't legal under any circumstances.
"they didn't publish this information, so they can't have broken that law no matter what."
Sure, I was wondering whether it's even legal to publish a (stolen) picture of someone's penis without their authorization. I cannot see any obvious journalism angle here, but then Trump has appointed many of the US's judges, so I can guess which way that case would go.
"Instead, they decided to engage in blackmail/extortion, which isn't legal under any circumstances."
I have to assume this somehow technically doesn't fall foul of extortion law, because if it does then AMI's lawyers are absolute idiots. I mean, that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't, but come on.
"I was wondering whether it's even legal to publish a (stolen) picture of someone's penis without their authorization"
If a reasonable argument can be made that publishing the picture is legitimately newsworthy, then I believe that doing so would be legal even without the subject's authorization.
But I am not a lawyer...
"If a reasonable argument can be made that publishing the picture is legitimately newsworthy, then I believe that doing so would be legal even without the subject's authorization."
I'm not surprised that there is an exemption for journalism in publishing photographs you don't have the copyright to, but I find it difficult to believe that anyone can argue with a straight face that this is about journalism, especially now that there's proof they would only do so as a form of blackmail/revenge.
Richest man in the world.... how much is the NI / AMI ? OK, I'll buy it.
Day 1. Pecker, you're fired!
Day 2. New editor, open the vaults and publish *anything* and *everything* NI/AMI has bought and hidden that looks bad for the scummy Drumpf.
Day 3. Shut it all down and let the lawyers scavenge the corpse. The ex staff deserve every (little) they get for working there.
Why would you want to reward his slimy behavior? And give him a nest egg to start hire away all the people from the company you bought and start over (working behind the scenes with a frontman if you get him to agree to a non-compete) so that the only thing you'd get out of the deal was the name and a bunch of office furniture. He'd take the vault of secrets with him, of course.
The kernel of this story is an attempt by an organisation similar in ethics to Breitbart to reduce democracy by trying to silence an opponent of Trump through blackmail.
The sort of thing people are quick to claim happens in Russia, as an example of how corrupt it is.
If there's an outbreak of "journalists" having suspicious fatal road accidents the parallel will be even more obvious,.
Does anyone see something wrong about the richest man in the world putting investigators on an organisation (they didnt pull the trigger here) for his personal political ends?
It makes it obvious just how the megarich need to support biased journalism.
The Enquirer might be light entertainment - its not meant to be serious journalism.
Only if he thinks bankrupt-prone Trump is anywhere near to be "the richest man in the world"... and not someone who desperately needs loans to stay afloat.
Anyway is funny that people think AR-15 and AK-47 are needed to defend yourself, but investigating on how and why your personal texts and photos have been obtained should not be allowed.... sure, if you're rich you options many others haven't - but that's not a crime.
The Enquirer might be light entertainment - its not meant to be serious journalism.
Oh well if it isn't serious, then threatening to post dick pics is just harmless fun then, obviously, and any efforts to extort money are not to be taken seriously. Good to know...
Does anyone see something wrong about the richest man in the world putting investigators on an organisation (they didn't pull the trigger here) for his personal political ends?
I don't think Bezos is doing it for political gain, and to say the Enquirer "didn't pull the trigger" is just complete nonsense: they are the ones threatening to publish illicitly acquired photos.
Putting investigators on them?
Upsetting the shiny headed multibillionaire owner of a global megacorp usually has the standard reaction of everyone getting killed by henchmen.
Or is popular entertainment wrong about the benefits of being rich and bald??
"Does anyone see something wrong about the richest man in the world putting investigators on an organisation (they didnt pull the trigger here) for his personal political ends?"
So the fact that they tried to black mailed him does not factor in ? It's not that he dis liked their politics they tried to black mail him . What would you have do ? Do nothing or use every resource at his disposal to make them pay ?
Why didnt Bezos use the recordings he keeps of all the Amazon Echo dots, Alexas scattered around ? Surely he will find a clue as to who eavesdropped, when and where. !
Why doesnt he just publish all the Photos of Trump rompings in bed whilst in Russia? Wonder why no one mentions this anymore. Surely he can "buy" some of those photos for a price. And i dare say Russia has all the means and resources to have done that. (all foreigners to be closely monitored).
Maybe it's them blackmailing Trump?
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Let's all take a moment to feel slightly sorry for the IT admin at the National Enquirer, who's just found out that his boss has decided to piss of the guy who runs their hosting. I'm guessing they're thinking about a migration plan right now. Although if it was me, I'd quit and go work for someone who's not an arsehole, and leave them in the shit.
The technique in the US is to get all the evidence sealed till it comes to trial, and then delay trial as long as possible.
The recent revelations about one of the biggest opioid drug families in the world - the Sacklers - are an example of that. Not so much smoking guns as full broadside with double weight of shot.
That's the reverse case. There Private Eye had exposed a shady businessman who threatened to sue. In this case a very shady media outlet tried to blackmail a businessman who was working to expose them.
Private Eye has not always been above reproach (Wakefield for instance) but the situation is hardly comparable.
In fact their behaviour is a bit like that of the KGB. One wonders where they learned it.
Is anyone else thinking about that scene in the Dark Knight where Morgan Freeman incredulously asks Joshua Harto if his plan really is to blackmail one of the richest, most powerful men in the world -- https://youtu.be/1z6o1GIEsQE
Also, let's face it -- if your semi-saluting manhood is poking out all over the place and making noticeable bulges, is being exposed as someone who is incredibly wealthy, dates attractive women, and has a large schlong really much of a threat. There are men who PAY to get that kind of PR.
David pecker has another much bigger problem. People believe that Jeff Bezos phone was hacked by a foreign government . there is a very real possibility that that David Pecker did this for Saudi Arabia . If Either can be proven David pecker could be charged as an agent for a foreign government
Or maybe BBC Radio Scotland or whatever, I channel surf... anyway, I may be naïve here, but when the host's interviewee intimated that that Mr Enquirer has the amusing name of "Pecker", I thought, "Ninety percent of the British audience of this broadcast won't know why it might be considered amusing."
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