In so many ways, Jeff Bezos isn’t a relatable guy. As the CEO of Amazon, he’s the world’s richest man. He lords over much of the internet’s infrastructure. He turns the municipal governments of America’s largest cities into slavering lapdogs at the prospect of his company’s arrival. In at least one way, though, Bezos is exactly like a huge number of Americans in 2019: On at least a few occasions, he apparently has dashed off explicit texts and some predictably composed nudes to a romantic partner with little apparent regard for whether it could come back to bite him in the ass.
Bezos’s moment of reckoning came on Thursday, when the Amazon founder chose to publicize what he described as a blackmail and extortion attempt by American Media Inc. AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, had obtained intimate photos and messages that Bezos had previously sent to Lauren Sanchez, the woman now rumored to be his girlfriend. He announced last month that he and his wife, MacKenzie, would divorce after 25 years of marriage.
In a Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, alleged that AMI wanted him to disavow publicly any knowledge of the publisher’s political dealings. In exchange, Bezos wrote, AMI would withhold publication of those private messages. In 2018, AMI admitted to federal authorities that it had paid off women on behalf of then–presidential candidate Donald Trump, and rumors abound of the company’s additional involvement with both the Trump campaign and the Saudi royal family.