After Jeff Bezos wrote a Medium post on Thursday accusing the National Enquirer of attempting to blackmail him using nude photos (including a “d*ck pick”) they had obtained, Ronan Farrow tweeted that he and “at least one other prominent journalist” had also received blackmail threats from the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc.
Farrow claimed that while working on breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Donald Trump, he and the other journalist fielded “blackmail efforts” from AMI to “stop digging or we’ll ruin you.”
“I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting,” he tweeted.
Last year, Farrow published a report in The New Yorker about the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice, wherein sources can be paid off to bury stories (a method, he reported, that helped Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign).
In a response to Farrow’s tweet, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis said that the AP team was once “warned explicitly by insiders” that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into the backgrounds AP journalists who were looking into the Enquirer’s efforts on behalf of Trump.
“Never saw evidence of this either way, and it didn’t stop our reporting,” Bridis wrote.
The Daily Beast also said that AMI and its attorneys threatened the publication and a member of its staff, in response to two stories published last week that reported on Bezos’s investigation into the Enquirer over his leaked sexts.
The Daily Beast didn’t describe those threats, but a Washington Post report from Tuesday found that AMI lawyers wanted to stop the Daily Beast from publishing its piece suggesting that Trump’s allies might have been involved in the effort to expose Bezos’s affair. According to documents obtained by the Post, lawyers threatened to sue Daily Beast if it used any information provided by a former Enquirer executive who was hired by the website.
In his doozy of a post on Medium, Bezos wrote that AMI had been trying to extort him over a series of private photos they had obtained, which apparently included a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick,’” and “a naked selfie.”
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” he wrote. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
AMI is apparently standing by their conduct: In a statement on Friday morning obtained by CNN reporter Brian Stelter, the publisher said that “American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully” in its reporting of Bezos, and would “thoroughly investigate” his claims of blackmail and act accordingly.
This post has been updated with a statement from AMI.