The beginning of February was a rough stretch for Jeff Bezos. The National Enquirer obtained evidence that he was engaged in a long-running extramarital affair, and he knew the paper was moments away from publishing exclusive details from the hugely embarrassing saga. Bezos had a decision to make. He could do the decent thing and apologize for his wrongdoing. Instead, he chose a different path — the warpath.
Far from owning up to his misdeeds, the billionaire founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post went on offense. In a Medium post published February 4, Bezos concocted a mind-blowing conspiracy involving the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia, and international espionage. He claimed that President Trump and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were attempting an extensive “extortion and blackmail” campaign against him. He proposed that his ownership of the Washington Post put a target on his back. As owner of the Post, Bezos claimed that he was on Trump’s enemies list. He also insisted that it was no coincidence that President Trump and David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, had a professional working relationship. Moreover, Bezos claimed that Saudi Arabia must be targeting him due to the Washington Post’s “unrelenting coverage” of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
I’ve written a post about developments with the National Enquirer and its parent company, AMI. You can find it here: https://t.co/G1ykJAPPwy
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 7, 2019
“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos added.
Team Bezos then launched a campaign in the media, going so far as to accuse the government — on orders from President Trump — of stealing his information. It seemed that Bezos was trafficking the Trump-Saudi-Pecker conspiracy directly through his own reporters at the Washington Post.
Washington Posts @RoigFranzia says Bezos' team thinks it's possible that the text leaks were politically motivated and that a "government entity" accessed the Bezos texts and hoo boy that's certainly something pic.twitter.com/MQuzNFbCed
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 8, 2019
The seriousness of the Bezos allegation set off a media firestorm. A who’s who of legacy media and NeverTrump personalities, without evidence, began accusing the president, Saudi Arabia, and David Pecker of colluding, sometimes through extrajudicial means, to bring down Mr. Bezos.
This should be getting more attention > https://t.co/6E8VlovDxw
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 8, 2019
Jeff Bezos is a complexifier for David Pecker — and it won’t end well. https://t.co/WP63uXkyZh
— Maureen Dowd (@maureendowd) February 9, 2019
If Bezos’s investigator was getting close to exposing collusion between AMI, the Saudis, and Kushner-Trump in illegal hacking of Bezos’s phone, that would explain the panic at AMI.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 8, 2019
The exposure of Saudi collusion may turn out to be as threatening to Trump as that of Russia collusion.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 8, 2019
1. It came out of left field, but last night's bombshell developments seem to have exposed a tangled web involving the Saudis, MBS, their allies, Team Trump, global hacking rings, Khashoggi, the Washington Post and Bezos that could take everything down. Follow the chain here:
— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) February 8, 2019
Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 8, 2019
The David Pecker of today is the center of a half-dozen national conversations from Jeff Bezos to the Saudis. And, of course, Donald Trump https://t.co/yNjp64I9b3
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 3, 2019
As the mystery deepens of how the National Enquirer obtained Jeff Bezos’ private communications, I am reminded that Saudi Arabia (which has no love lost for the Washington Post) bought very sophisticated spy software from an Israeli company: https://t.co/XqcXzPMqDK
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) February 10, 2019
Evidence never surfaced that the accused entities engaged in an anti-Bezos conspiracy. President Trump and Saudi Arabia have legitimate grievances with the Washington Post’s extremely biased coverage. The Post has been at the forefront of pushing the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory since day one of the Trump administration..
As for Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post has used the death of its columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, to continue to take shots at Riyadh. I explained their nonstop campaign against the Saudi monarchy in a February 12 column for Conservative Review:
The Washington Post has taken to extreme measures in publishing unrelentingly negative stories against Saudi Arabia. Following Khashoggi’s death, The Post became weaponized into an open forum for foreign governments and radical Islamist and jihadi groups opposed to Saudi Arabia’s role in the Middle East. The Post routinely falsely categorized its deceased Islamist columnist Khashoggi as a democracy advocate, a journalist, and a voice for reform, none of which is even remotely true.
As the campaign continued, Bezos never provided any evidence to support his grand conspiracy theory involving hacking, spying, and revenge. Moreover, all of the parties accused of wrongdoing unequivocally denied that they were behind anything having to do with Bezos.
On Monday evening, the Wall Street Journal cleared up all remaining doubt in what some have come to label Peckergate. The Journal found that there was no grand conspiracy involving President Trump, foreign entities, or Pecker. There was no evidence that Bezos’ information was stolen or that he was hacked.
“The reality is simpler: Michael Sanchez, the brother of Mr. Bezos’ lover, sold the billionaire’s secrets for $200,000 to the Enquirer’s publisher, said people familiar with the matter,” the Journal reported. This added to other media reports, which also pointed to Sanchez as the man who fed the story to the Enquirer. They were published about one week after Mr. Bezos published his Medium post.
By all accounts, Jeff Bezos invented a Trump-Pecker-Saudi collusion conspiracy theory out of thin air. Not even the world’s richest man should be allowed to get away with spreading incriminating hoaxes. After all, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”