Enquiring minds want to know what fallout the National Enquirer story about Jeff Bezos, the proprietor of the Washington Post, will have on the Trump presidency. The Post, to the ire of Trump, has relentlessly pursued Trump, focusing on his illicit business activities. Today it features another lulu: according to the paper, Trump’s tony Bedminster golf club relied on scores of illegal immigrants to build and service it — to the extent that their wages resulted in the rise to prosperity of a remote village in Costa Rica: ‘The brightly painted homes that line the road in Santa Teresa de Cajon, many paid for by wages earned 4,000 miles away, are the fruits of a long-running pipeline of illegal workers to the president’s course, one that carried far more than a few unauthorized employees who slipped through the cracks.’
Trump has not taken the Post’s coverage lying down. He may call the New York Times a ‘failing’ newspaper, but he craves its approbation, as his recent meeting with its publisher A.G. Sulzberger revealed. The ‘Amazon Washington Post’ not so much. He wants Bezos ousted.
So the question hovering over the Trump administration is whether it was involved in capturing Bezos’s steamy messages to his paramour Lauren Sanchez, a former TV star. Bezos is alleging that the Enquirer sought to force him to state that he had ‘no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’ Bezos refused. He flipped the script. ‘It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,’ Bezos wrote. ‘President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.’
Did Trump push Pecker to go after Bezos? Why was the tabloid so worried about Gavin de Becker, Bezos’s longtime security consultant who was investigating how the Enquirer obtained the pulchritudinous material in the first place? Until now, the tabloid appears to have operated with relative impunity. Now others are coming forward to second Bezos’s allegations of attempted extortion. The enterprising Ronan Farrow, for example, tweeted: ‘I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” blackmail efforts from AMI. (I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.)’
After a long silence, American Media Inc. responded: ‘American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.’ Ho, ho, ho. Bezos has found his own form of resolution, which is to say he outed the unsavory methods of the publication that had sought to out him. This time, the publication, not its ostensible target, appears to be in a peck of trouble.