On Thursday evening, Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, published a post on the website Medium that—
—well, it’s hard to describe what it did, really. Bezos accused the owner of the National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail,” alleging that the supermarket tabloid threatened to publish revealing photos of Bezos if he did not call off an investigation into its practices. According to an email that Bezos reproduces in full, the incriminating material included a “below-the-belt selfie—otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” of Bezos.
This was only one of several emails that Bezos reproduces in the post. He says that they were all sent by executives and attorneys at the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., or AMI.
That is the content of the post, at least. But Bezos’s post did something that has become common in this cultural-political moment. His blog post is, well, a blog post. But it is also so salacious, so bizarrely stimulating, that it overwhelms the thinking brain and presents instead as pure spectacle. In a little more than 2,000 words, Bezos seemed to rip every headline out of the newspaper and bind them in an eternal neon braid: the mighty power of billionaires, the immiseration of American journalism, the thin smudge of porniness that smartphones have layered onto reality—all of that, and President Donald Trump (who is a close friend of David Pecker, AMI’s chief executive), and the corruption and journalist-murdering malice of the Saudi government, which Bezos alleges is wrapped up in his story “for reasons still to be better understood.” Bezos once founded the Everything Store; now he has given us the Everything Story.