LGBTI journalist Ronan Farrow said publisher American Media Inc. (AMI) threatened to blackmail him over his investigative reporting of Donald Trump and the National Enquirer, a tabloid owned by AMI.
Farrow made the reveal in response to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ bombshell Medium post.
In the post, Bezos alleges AMI CEO David Pecker threatened to publish revealing photos of Bezos if the investigation into AMI’s ‘politically motivated’ practices helped Trump in the 2016 election.
Farrow said he and another ‘prominent journalist’ dealt with ‘similar “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” blackmail efforts from AMI’.
Other journalists, such as Ted Bridis, formerly of AP, tweeted out a similar story.
Some of Farrow’s most prominent work includes the investigation of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the sexal misconduct allegations against him, which led to his downfall.
In a follow-up tweet, Farrow referenced a New Yorker piece he worked on about Weinstein. In it, he said an AMI editor, Dylan Howard, who also dealt with Bezos, shared reporters’ information with Weinstein to help him combat the allegations.
So how did we get here?
It became an internet sensation on Thursday (7 February) when Bezos published his blog post.
In it, he discussed AMI’s ‘catch and kill’ practice, whereby AMI buys stories and then buries them. Bezos, who owns part of the Washington Post, supported investigations into how this practice was ‘politically motivated’ to help Trump win the 2016 election.
Other reporters, like aforementioned Farrow and Bridis, did similar work.
AMI reportedly threatened to publish nude and other explicit photos of Bezos if he did not stop the investigation. They also requested he release a statement clearing AMI of all accusations. Bezos shared alleged emails about this in his post.
This followed a National Enquirer article about Bezos allegedly having an affair with TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, which included personal texts.
AMI released a statement on Friday:
‘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.’
These incidents cast further suspicion over the 2016 election and jeopardize the ethical safety of journalists and their work.