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  • By Bruce Lloyd

My pal Jeff Bezos outs blackmailing, creepy National Enquirer

And the supermarket tabloid says Bezos is “sleazy”!?

I’ve had a relationship with Jeff Bezos since 1996 or so the Amazon website tells me every time I drop by. 1996! That’s even before Bezos took Amazon public and a real long time before the financial media began referring to him as the richest man in the world.

Back then, Amazon was all about books and I was living on Saipan. I can think of many nice things to say about Saipan and the CNMI where I lived for many years, but my environment then was a bookstore free desert. When I and other book buyers heard about the site and checked out the discounts, we were hooked pronto and never looked back, busy picking our purchases at the Chalan Kanoa post office. I know that many of us hoped Bezos would survive the competition and thrive.

Of course we didn’t know back then that Bezos’ boundless ambition was to be more or less the retail king of the internet or maybe the world, flogging about any shippable product off to places with or without competing brick and mortar stores. Many of those retailers aren’t with us anymore, having succumbed to the Bezos machine and going out of business. Checking his bottom line, I guess he was onto something.

As someone who was a bookstore employee for years, I came to realize that Bezos—if he hadn’t destroyed the trade’s business model—had forced it to wake up and rethink what it was doing. Fortunately, that’s what happened. By all accounts, independent bookstores are holding their own and if your budget for discretionary purchases is low, you can find second hand books online with prices that far undercut anything in Amazon world.

Better yet, my first and all time favorite employer, Paul’s Bookstore, is still around on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin. The window sign hasn’t changed since at least 1963.

I did appreciate Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post and his hands-off management style there. Others, including the current occupant of the White House did not and openly worked to figure out how to bring him down, gloating when he suffered any setbacks.

Donald Trump’s BFF, National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, to the rescue. Pecker, who has already had to admit the publication’s role in buying and burying negative stories about payoffs to the president’s various extra-marital sex partners, and his team went to work. Learning Bezos had a mistress, the chase was on, yielding compromising information, including “sleazy text messages and gushing love notes.”

You don’t really need to have ever cracked a lawbook to figure out the attempted blackmail scheme that this material fueled. As The Guardian newspaper reported: “Enquirer editor Dylan Howard allegedly sent an email warning of nine intimate images in excruciating detail. They included a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘dick pick’.”

Wrong pick for a victim. Bezos put a huge, well funded team to work figuring out how the Enquirer came by its stash. By Bezos’s account, Pecker’s team made an offer: the Enquirer would agree to not publish the photos if Bezos and his investigators released a public statement “affirming that they have no knowledge or basis” to suggest the tabloid’s coverage was “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

“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,” Bezos wrote: “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”

Bezos paid a personal price, the destruction of his marriage, while tabloid headline writers had a field day. “Bezos exposes Pecker,” was one such product.

I’ve never known a ‘legitimate bookstore’ to peddle either the National Enquirer or its ilk that assault you on both sides as you attempt to stock up on milk and cookies at your favorite supermarket. These publications have always felt free to make up what they can’t steal or ferret out on the trail, so it was nice to learn from the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn that over the past 40 years, the Enquirer’s circulation has dropped from about six million to a paltry 218,000.

More disturbing, these tabs have turned from their traditional targets in show business to politics: “This has been true since long before the Florida-based supermarket tabloid began churning out poisonously and deliberately false propaganda during the 2016 presidential campaign season — “Hillary (Clinton): 6 months to live!,”; “Bill (Clinton) caught in teen sex ring!,”; “Hillary hitman tells all,!”; “Hillary and Huma (Abedin) going to jail!,” and on and on and on.”

Zorn says it’s immoral for supermarkets to abet this and urges that they quit doing so.

Me too!


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