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[dupe] Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of Blackmail (nytimes.com)
433 points by foxh0und 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 185 comments

This was already posted, original article (by Bezos) discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19109474

Peter Thiel (worth 2.5b) destroyed Gawker with a contribution of 10m to Hulk Hogan's legal fund.

If Bezos contributed a similar proportion of his fortune (112b), he would be contributing 448m. Not only is the National Enquirer about to be in the shitfight of its life, but every single other lawsuit it's going to be facing will be armed to the teeth with amazing legal talent.

Couldn't have happened to nicer people.

Here's the cherry on top: https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/1093654471157170177

AMI probably just broke their non-prosecution agreement with the SDNY

Reminds me of the Fyre documentary on Netflix and how he went back to scamming while he was on trial.

If you build a livelihood through morally corrupt means it's apparently hard to stop even after you get caught.

Not surprised to see Rodger Stone mixed up in this either while he's awaiting trial. Apparently, he knows Jeff Bezos' mistress' brother who is the prime suspect in obtaining the photos:


What AMI did is unlikely to be criminal.

From the New York Penal Law article 135.60 (AMI is headquartered in New York):

> A person is guilty of coercion in the second degree when he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, [..] by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will:


> 5. Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;


> Coercion in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

> 15/ To make this out as an extortion case, prosecutors would have to argue that the claims Bezos had against AMI constituted "money or property" of Bezos and that the whole settlement proposal was merely window dressing for the extortion of Bezos by AMI.

I’m not sure what they’re quoting from, but the New York law I quoted is not limited to attempts to obtain “money or property”. One federal law that might otherwise apply, 18 USC § 875, does have such a limitation, though not in those terms; it requires “intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value”.

Coercion is a misdemeanor.

That is true, but felonies and misdemeanors are both considered crimes. Thus it would fit your mention of “criminal” behavior, as well as – more importantly – the clause in the non-prosecution agreement that waives it “should AMI commit any crimes”.

As I point out sidethread, the same behavior is a felony in Washington, and it seems pretty likely off the top of my head that a Washington court could exercise jurisdiction over a national tabloid committing a Washington state felony against a resident of Washington.

Assuming Jeff Bezos' quotes of their emails are accurate, it seems like a pretty open-and-shut case of criminal blackmail. I looked at Wikipedia's tiny entry for "blackmail in the United States", and it is definitely not federal blackmail. I looked at the state of Washington's legal code... ( https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.56.110 )

WA defines "extortion" pretty sparely as "knowingly to obtain or attempt to obtain by threat property or services of the owner, and specifically includ[ing] sexual favors". It is a class C felony when the threat is "(e) To expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or (f) To reveal any information sought to be concealed by the person threatened". (see https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.56.130 )

So it seems pretty safe to say that AMI's behavior is a class C felony under Washington law _if_, by making the threat, they were attempting to obtain any "services" from Jeff Bezos. What did they ask for?

> 1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.

> 2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.

(see https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146... )

I don't see how this could fail to be criminal. Getting someone to do what you want by threatening to print embarrassing pictures of them is the prototype for the crime of blackmail.

See response below. Renato Mariotti is an expert, as is Ken White, who concurs (and also provides a further analysis of the case law on this).

I'm quoting from Renato Mariotti's thread here:

> 10/ What is extortion? Typically it's when someone demands money in exchange for keeping something embarrassing private. While we ordinarily have a First Amendment right to say whatever we please, it can be a crime to threaten to say something unless money is paid.

> 15/ To make this out as an extortion case, prosecutors would have to argue that the claims Bezos had against AMI constituted "money or property" of Bezos and that the whole settlement proposal was merely window dressing for the extortion of Bezos by AMI.

But that is nonsense when compared to Washington's legal code, which specifically defines "extortion" to include demands for "services [...] includ[ing] sexual favors". I feel confident that sexual favors and other services are neither money nor property.

You've left out the tweet immediately preceding 15:

14/ Was AMI's action slimy? Yes.

Is it consistent with some of the questionable practices that AMI engaged in on behalf of Trump and others? Yes.

But is this the sort of case federal prosecutors would charge as extortion? No.

I already said that AMI's conduct does not appear to be federal blackmail. I didn't look at federal extortion at all.

But I'm making a claim about the law of Washington, not federal law.

I don't think Bezos's post was necessarily a tell-all of everything they could have against AMI though. It just looked like the first shot.

IANAL, no evidence, just opinions, etc.

> he would be contributing 448m.

Maybe he could pull off a buy & kill of the whole NI.

The owner is a Trump affiliated scumbag who ran "catch and kill" cover for Donald during the primaries. These people are so moronic and unethical. I can't wait for this era of American Idiocracy to be over.

It’ll still be here after Trump. He’s just the largest symptom.

Agreed. It's just sad that a mag that runs stories on Kennedy conspiracy theories and rat boy stories runs cover for a reality show dolt that has his hands on the nuke codes, and half the U.S.electorate cheers that on. Real life is far more cynical than sarcasm.

Jeff has tremendous resources, but a measly blog post is his counter-punch? He really is screwed.

How so?

cool legal system we have where you can literally pay to win

What Gawker did to Hulk Hogan was illegal and unethical. And when they were told to take the video down by a judge they refused to do so. Gawker lost because they were in the wrong and were destroyed because they refused to just take the L

Its OK the celebrate the ends while also criticizing the morality of the means

My remark was more about how often this case is trotted out as setting a concerning precedent. Gawker basically acted like jackasses and blew their own leg off, and Thiel was just there to make sure they didn't miss. It's hard for me to see that as setting a morally troubling precedent, and it doesn't fit neatly into the narrative of "Billionaire uses money to destroy enemies" unless you omit most of the relevant details. Presumably they could have avoided the entire situation by not being shady and breaking the law. And the rich having better access to legal representation is not something that was changed in any way with regards to this case.

I took it differently: it's an indictment of a system in which a person without Thiel's means is much less likely to obtain justice.

gawker deserved everything it happened and more. https://i.4pcdn.org/pol/1444591425984.jpg

But the indictment (pun intended) of the legal system is that it took a billionaire's $10 million to see that justice was done.

What happened to freedom of the press?

Freedom of the Press does not allow for breaking the law and _especially_ does not allow them to disobey a court order after their illegal activities are litigated (and, especially _especially_ does not allow them to flaunt that disobedience in the public). What Gawker did was not protected by the first amendment, nor should it be.

That being said, I also don't believe what Thiel did was ethical or just. It's a scary prospect.

Maybe reality is a bit more nuanced than “the press can publish anything without consequences.”

Any reasonable person understands that freedom hits limits when it unjustly impinges on other people's freedoms.

Can you name an instance where a person or body is entitled to completely unfettered freedom, regardless of harmful external consequences?

The Golden Rule is one of the most ancient and foundational principles we have.


The press doesn't have the freedom to blackmail and do illegal biddings for powerful people, and destroy lives when lives aren't newsworthy.

Unless you post pro-Trump memes critical of CNN to Reddit, in which case CNN knows where you live, and whether or not CNN decides to publish that information depends very much on whether you apologize for your hateful stunt like a good boy.

Freedom of the press does not give you a free pass to violate people's right to privacy.

Gawker's insurance was going to bat for them, and would have likely reached settlement. What Thiel's team did was help Hogan's lawyers deliberately construct their suit in such a way, even scale it back if I understand correctly, that if found liable, would not have fall within Gawker's insurance policy.[0] Faced with the prospect of a huge uncovered loss, Gawker crumpled like a cheap suit. Paid to win? I doubt it. Hogan was up against a team seasoned pros, and was just lucky to have an enemy of his enemy. Much respect to Thiel for sticking to principle.

[0] https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/gawkers-insurer-lo...

That still feels off to me. Thiel didn't go to court to argue for Gawker to be shut down, he argued something different knowing that the financial implications (that they'd specifically targeted) meant it would be shut down. Still feels like an incredible exercise of rich guy power.

It's unfortunate that not everybody has this power. But since we can't change that, it's fortunate that at least some random rich guy has this power. (Random in the sense that he's not royalty/political dynasty, but literally anyone lucky enough to have become rich in capitalism.)

Bezos is Bezos. What principle did Thiel who is not Hogan stick to?

Yeah, it sucks, but it says more about individuals WITHOUT funding and their complete lack of efficacy. Once any individual with any potentially legitimate complaint is given the resources to fight back, it becomes a much fairer battleground.

In fact, I would argue that these billionaires funding lawsuits like Hulk Hogan's actually allow the average person a higher success chance. Its pragmatism in the face of a ridiculously slanted justice system.

> cool legal system we have where you can literally pay to win

No, because he is not rewriting any laws. The laws are already on his side.

There is a deeper issue where parties without adequate resources may be provided ineffective representation.

The US legal system may have its flaws, but you should really see how the legal systems in some 3rd world countries operate. Those can be literally pay to win.

> worth 2.5m

You might want to multiply that by three orders of magnitude ;)


You surly meant 2.5b not 2.5m.



nothing in his letter suggests it was directed by "trump or his people"

Apparently you didn’t read his post:

Exhibit A:

“My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.

President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.

Exhibit B:

“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie.

That last line more or less admits Bezos thinks this is politically motivated as denying that would constitute him lying.

i did read his post, and you're trying to slip a couple of huge assumptions in there. again, nothing you quoted implies that trump or his people were behind this. the simpler (and to me obvious) read of what he said is that the enquirer is an ally of trump and has interests aligned with his.

saying "trump considers me an enemy" is also just a slightly obfuscated way of saying "i'm trustworthy" to about half the country.

Trump has named bezos directly as an enemy in more than one tweet and has denigrated Amazon &the Washington Post directly because they are Bezos-owned entities and has said as much. Cut the bullshit.

would you care to elaborate?


I don't know what evidence he Bezos may or may-not have, but I certainly wouldn't put it past Trump to call his good friend David Pecker and tell him to press on the Bezos scandal. Trump is certainly on record picking a fight with Bezos because of WaPo stories.

Not sure that billionaires destroying media outlets is something to be cheered on.

Not sure national enquirer is a "media outlet."

In general I agree that the fourth estate needs protection but I don't think arbitrary words on newsprint automatically makes you qualified.

> arbitrary words on newsprint automatically makes you qualified.

Who gets to decide what is arbitrary?

"Billionaries destroying media outlets" is an emergent property from two facts: - Some people can't/don't get justice because they can't afford a lawsuit. - Rich people can give money to poor people to get them that justice.

In order for Bezos to destroy them legally, they still need to have messed up in some way.

It's all but inevitable that a news publisher will get a story wrong at some point, that's why corrections get issued. So it's still a lot of power to put in the hands of the already powerful.

There's a difference between a correction to a flawed article and attempted blackmail though... One is an accident that can occurre in the course of good journalism, the other is something else entirely.

Oh sure. I was talking in the context of Thiel and Gawker, not Bezos and the National Enquirer.

Yes, but this isn't an accurate description of gawker's case either. This wasn't a case of accidentally falling on the wrong side of the legal line and only realizing when it's too late. They repeatedly ignored direct court orders, eg to take down the video.

wasn't it generally agreed that the Gawker-destroying opinion probably would have been reversed if they could've kept it afloat for an appeal? the bar for "messed up" isn't where you'd think

Because the billionaire is not destroying anything. He is requesting that the government, the entity charged with protecting citizens from criminals, notices and prosecutes a crime.

The prosecution of companies and individuals for the breaking of just laws is something to cheer

Real media outlets don't try and blackmail people, as Bezos makes clear in his post.

But at the same time, Trump uses the Enquirer to cover his antics up. Today, my enemy's enemy is my friend.

Since media outlets don't engage in blackmail, there are none involved in this dispute. This is a billionaire versus a filthy, blackmailing rag.

Nothing you've said here is wrong. The enquirer doesn't meet the minimum standards of journalism, they are a blackmail rag. I think this could actually be proven with empirical data.

To modify a quote from The Dark Knight:

"Let me get this straight, you think one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world, who owns the Washington Post and pays out of his own pocket to send rockets to space, won't stand up for himself so your plan is to blackmail this person?

Good Luck

Same thing I was thinking. That said, I hate the National Enquirer and I am praying this leads to their destruction.

On a tangentially related note I also believe there ought to be laws restricting paparazzi from harassing people. I think it's awful every time I see someone trying to walk down the street or out of a hospital or courthouse and swarmed by cameras that won't leave them alone even in moments of grief. They're people. I don't understand why it's considered perfectly acceptable to treat them that way just because they've become well-known.

Just a thought connected to my disdain for tabloids.

Well they have broken some amazing stories, they pretty much ended John Edwards career in the face of a lot of criticism. They broke their first in 2006 and followed up with the final is 2008.

so while tabloids can be annoying they sometimes are capable of breaking a story, usually only the sordid type, but those can be amazing

No, I don't support this argument. Pedophile priests probably gave support to many people and did a lot of good, too. They still need to be thrown forcefully from their offices and straight into prison.

We are not so desperate that we must accept evil just because it comes with a small payment of good. You can have the good on its own. That reporter or his team could just as easily have found that story while working for a different publisher.

You are missing the point. Entities like National Enquirer are not like Gawker that was bankrupted by Thiel with his wealth might. These entities are funded by politics aka American GDP aka your tax dollars. As Bezos clearly outlined in this letter, Trump administration helped these people have very lucrative deals with Saudies to get their financing, very likely, US government doing some favors to Saudies in return. Even if Bezos managed to bankrupt them, they will immediately popup with new name pretty much next day, by same owners and would run in exact same way doing exact same things. You can't kill it.

National Enquirer is funded by US tax dollars?

I'm no friend of the National Enquirer, but we should make sure we're talking about facts here..

Do you have any proof for your assertion that they're "funded by politics aka American GDP aka your tax dollars"?

You might overestimate how much people care to pour into the National Enquirer. Or I might underestimate it, sure. Time will tell.

the justice department certainly can in fact kill it

It takes less than an hour of paperwork to spin a new business entity that is exactly the same as old. Bankruptcy laws limits financial losses for owners. Entities like AMI are often set up in a way so such financial losses would be negligible, if any.

it's pretty difficult when you're in prison

Regulation is required.

Otherwise destroying 1 paparazzi or 1 tabloid will make another 5 pop up in their place.

Partially agreed. Journalism should always be unregulated, but justice should act faster and be more reliable when journalism strays to evil.

I wish there was any way for the commoners to make public policy proposals. Imagine like a reddit for discussion of policy, but where the most upvoted things actually got looked at by people in decision-making positions.

It's very frustrating to me that I sometimes see really deep, interesting analysis of issues (and actual back-and-forth exchanges!) on reddit and never any such thing from actual politicians. Look at this thread here~ [0] Honestly insightful and meaningful discourse that anyone can participate in. They took what sounded on the surface like a great idea and pointed out critical flaws, and suggested superior alternatives. The constructiveness of the thread astounds me.

I wish this type of thing actually connected to the government somehow, like in Ender's Game where Ender's siblings construct internet aliases and join policy conversations, slowly gaining influence and popularity through their rhetoric and insight.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/aicgpz/serious_a...

I doubt Bezos is going to stop at a legal thumping. He has the resources to destroy every dollar Pecker ever saw, ever dollar any of his employees or friends ever saw. I have little doubt many people in Bezos's employ have already developed multiple branch and sequel plans to ensure their boss never even has to acknowledge Pecker's homelessness in a cold city in winter.

It worked swimmingly for Gawker.

Gawker never tried to extort Thiel, they just published their story. Nor did they have a history on sealing or using these stories as leverage.

Pretty well summaries in the 1st third:

> “Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption,” Mr. Bezos wrote of A.M.I., explaining why he had decided to speak out. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out.”

They also refused a court order to remove the video:

> Yesterday the Hon. Pamela A.M. Campbell, a circuit court judge in Pinellas County, Fla., issued an order compelling Gawker to remove from the internet a video of Hulk Hogan fucking his friend's ex-wife, as well as a 1,400-word narrative of the video written by former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio and 466 user-submitted comments. Here is why we are refusing to comply.


That may have been what gained them their enemy, but what actually destroyed them was what they did to Hulk Hogan -- they did what the National Enquirer is currently only threatening to do.

Who did Gawker blackmail?

Not blackmail, but outed Thiel

And seemingly created an enemy so powerful he destroyed their entire business.

Gawker was extremely and unrepentantly unethical. They destroyed themselves.

Gawker destroyed themselves

That's the joke. Sarcasm doesn't work well on the Internet.

How did he do it

If you are seriously interested, Peter Thiel funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit surrounding his sex tape and the resulting judgement forced Gawker to declare bankruptcy and end up selling for basically nothing.

Outing is like revealing a trade secret. Once the trade secret is publicly known it is no longer a trade secret. However that reveal was on Thiel.

They’re hosted on aws, too.

Keep in mind the people on the other side of this, according to Bezos, are the Saudis. I’d bet on their luck over his.

The Saud family won't spend a dime on this. What do you do with a dangerously incompetent employee? You fire them.

A New York Times article is not "blogspam".

Usually not, but this one surely is. It's 90% direct quotes and paraphrase from the primary source, adding nothing of value; and it elides the incredibly relevant letters exchanged between Bezos et al and AMI.

I think it's a pretty great example of how to blogspam and it's somewhat tragic that the NYT is resorting to blogspam for clicks.

What's the New York Times supposed to do for their readers? Not publish anything? De Becker, AMI and Amazon were asked for comment and declined. Besides, only a few paragraphs from the story are quotes from the blog post.

Yes exactly that. It's proof though that they're just an entertainment rag looking for eyeballs.

Do some digging, find out more context, get relevant legal precedents, or any precedents for this kind of action. Reference Gawker case, all of the stuff that talks about WHY this is important.

They basically just reposted Bezos' letter but in their own words with some of his quotes thrown in.

I'm sorry, but how else would you write about this story? Is the NY Times just supposed to not cover it? The story is literally the post by Jeff Bezos, which they link to first in their article.

No, but we should really not have upvoted it quite so highly considering it's a non-primary source that isn't really adding anything

I've been tinkering with the idea of a "news" agency that basically just re-publishes primary sources.

Still haven't figured out exactly how it would work.

In the context of the NYT, this isn't blogspam. This is news; they're reporting it; of course they're going to quote the article. In the context of HN, though, yeah, it kinda is. Why link to the NYT's rehash when the original is available (and has already been shared on HN)?

It's literally a front page article on the most influential newspaper in the country, and it will be in the physical newspaper tomorrow morning. How is that "blogspam"?

And there's a huge difference between a neutral third party reporting on something and just seeing one first-hand account of something. With your logic anyone reporting on Trump is just committing "blogspam", with his tweets being the beginning and end of the truth.

Looks like David Pecker just lost his Prime membership. Enjoy a lifetime of 14 day shipping, bro.

It's amusing to imagine an internal "Bezos shit list" at Amazon, where being on this list causes everything you order get flagged and delayed/mispacked/etc.

Oh god, can you imagine if you consistently got your orders fulfilled by the scam/knockoff providers? Being absurdly rich, yet everything you own is cheaply made and you have no clue why.

Wow, you have just described my Amazon shopping experience, except without being absurdly (or even remotely) rich.

But seriously, I actually got caught up in Amazon’s anti-fake-review dragnet and my account cannot review anymore without possibility of appeal. Being falsely accused made me irritated just enough to boycott all Amazon services.

At first it was tough, but then I realized I spend money on good quality products now, and, because I either have to wait for shipping from other suppliers or go in-person to a store, I’ve eliminated online impulse buys. It’s actually amazing how much fake or cheap stuff there is on Amazon.

Fully agree, and walmart online is an easy replacement and often less expensive.

And all your EC2 instances have noisy neighbors, no matter how many times you terminate and reinstantiate. A living nightmare.

Likely just switch to eBay at that point, with Fast & Free most items show up in 2 or 3 days. Newegg and a few hundred others also do Shoprunner, which is 2 day shipping if you spend enough to qualify (iirc buying a few hundred dollars a year worth of stuff). Cutting Amazon out of my life has definitely been an improvement :D

I believe you may have taken the previous post as serious rather than the joke it was.

Lol, I did. Was split on whether it was facetious, but its a good opportunity to highlight who else is offering 2 day shipping :P

Also using AWS for the National Enquirer website including Route 53 for DNS https://twitter.com/ryanhuber/status/1093665718464327680

I wonder where they have stored those alleged incriminating photos... An S3 bucket backing some sort of CMS system they use to run that website?

He also probably lost the protection Mueller offered him and AMI for co-operation.

I can relate to a plague on both their houses but it is important to worry a bit about 'law of unintended consequences' effects. Bezos is going to get something ordinary mortals cannot, (redress) because of his money. So he isn't a champion for fundamental rights against press abuse, he's a champion for millionaires rights.

A real win here is for a global press industry to adopt redress measures ordinary people can use, and for stories to reflect fundamental truths, not twisted outcomes.

Jeff is still a union-busting, extractive parasite in my personal opinion. He might have made a worldwide empire which drives the economy, but he also helped wreck small-town shopping alongside costco and walmart, and their international cohort of economically efficient traders. Its lovely to be able to buy anything. Its truly sad to walk past small town life consisting of boarded up shops.

I don't buy that "buying your shit at huge markup from a local shop" is some great boone to a community. It's effectively a tax on everyone in town, subsidizing the one family that owns the shop. There are plenty of businesses that are more local-friendly, but household necessities aren't one of them.

That tax keeps people in jobs. That tax kept social capital i the town heart.

The bigstore on the edge of town, and mail-order destroys social capital.

I absolutely get the prices were higher. I have lived this experience in different times, and short of cash I resented paying that markup in the corner store. But now, older and I think a little wiser I realize that what I did, was suck energy out of the local community. I miss the corner store, and I miss fresh bread from a local baker, and I miss the small indie bookshop and record store.

If the price of these things for a small town is a "tax" then can we be grown up and discuss the tax? I mean sure, you can drive the utility truck down the road to the costco, but what kind of a local are you, if the store-owner is on their hunkers because you stopped shopping? Are you a local at all?

Of course you're a local. It's ridiculous to judge a person's involvement with their community by how much money they can afford to waste at specialist shops. I grew up in a town that had little shops like that, but the only businesses that were at all accessible to me was the coffee shop and a diner, both of which were priced competitively with chains. My parents had to drive a town over because the only local grocery was an "organic" hippy place that charged double.

But I attended public school in that town, I attended church in that town, I volunteered at the community center, I basically spent every afternoon after class at the public library in that town. I learned to play harmonica on the sidewalk of that town. I knew the names of the old people and disabled people who hung out in the same places I did, places that wouldn't kick you out for not having extra money to spend. So yeah, I knew families that loved to brag about how they support small business by buying $40 books and statues of gnomes made by a well known artist. They usually sent their kids to private schools and had to drive in 15 min from mcmansions in a private neighborhood b/c as much as they enjoyed spending money in my town, they wouldn't dream of living in my part of town, next to the old mill houses and apartments. (That's all starting to change with some gentrification though.)

So yeah, people who don't have the luxury of being loose with money are absolutely locals - and it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

Of course you're a local. It's ridiculous to judge a person's involvement with their community by how much money they can afford to waste at specialist shops.

Wow. what a strawman. Its not specialist shops, its the garage, the baker, the newsagent, the food store. Its not wasting money, its deciding to economise personally, so widespread that everyone does, and suddenly half the town is shuttered.

I was not talking about hipster coffee moments, I was talking about what I see in small towns here in Australia: people stop using the local established main-street businesses, and the entire town heart dies, with people driving to least cost warehouse category killers with cheap petrol and free nescafe on the edge of town.

People who don't have the luxury to be loose with money include the former garage owner. He's on meth for a reason dude.

So you expect all customers to accept higher prices because of the community aesthetic you personally enjoy more?

Yes. I think I do. Which is at the heart of any tax discussion: So you expect all local citizens to accept higher taxes because of the community utility function you expect everyone to contribute to

What you're driving to, is that get off my goddam lawn and I drive over the border to buy cheaper and screw the lot of you get off my lawn is really fine.. except it isn't. Its pretty sad. But sure, its legal, go for it, don't worry, I can't stop you. I can feel about it, but you don't care what I feel so there's no downside. Right?

It's a super inefficient mechanism. You're better off having everyone save a bit by buying from Walmart, and be able to afford to go out to dinner once a month - instead of never.

The small towns I know, its your aunt who runs the store which shut, and its your cousin who used to run the garage who is now nickel-and-diming. Neither of them are working for tips in a restaurant.

You ask that question like it's the height of stupidity, seemingly failing to remember that it has been that way for the last hundred years. To put it a different way, wouldn't you rather pay a few cents more support your community and fellow neighbors than feed the checkbook of a $100B sweatshop owner a thousand miles away?

Of course, I already know the answer.

I lean libertarian, but I like to think I have a lot of empathy and also to some degree share your preference for a quainter, high-price era of goods. So I'll try to argue Amazon's side from a point of view you might relate to.

Here's the thing: that era of town heart, like a beautiful sunset, is only charming if it's natural. Keeping an inefficient system alive at the point of the gun (for, and here's where my libertarian stripes are showing, that is what a tax necessarily entails in the end calculus) robs said system of whatever aesthetic pleasantness it used to hold. I would feel good being the proprietor of a clean, trustworthy and useful small shop in a town. I would feel much less good if I knew my existence was only due to charity or due to the novelty of having a small shop in town, essentially making me into a tourist attraction.

My local corner store is run by Palestinians who have no compunction telling me in front of the mostly black clientele that they [aforementioned clientele] would “never survive in the old country because there’s no welfare there.” This was greeted during the recent government shutdown with grumbled threats of riots if SNAP wasn’t sorted out. Mayberry and Bodega Cat they all are not.

Oh please. Don't bring race to a knife fight on town economics.

>Bezos is going to get something ordinary mortals cannot, (redress) because of his money. So he isn't a champion for fundamental rights against press abuse, he's a champion for millionaires rights.

I never understand this kind of argument. Bezos says the enquirer used blackmail against many others who couldn't fight back because they had less power.

Bezos is fighting back, and will deprive the enquirer of their ability to blackmail. He also shows a public relations strategy that others can use, not simply a billionaire.

How does publicly punishing extortion fail to help others?

Likewise, legal precedents established by the rich can be used by the poor, more cheaply.

I feel this argument makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

I feel this argument makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

If as a result of what he does, the bar lowers for others to get redress. But, I did not see a surge in low-bar redress stem from Peter Theil's legal action. I saw him pony up significantly more lawyer points in a fight which the publisher couldn't win. He killed them. Every other publishers legal defence insurance went up, but none of them think this means they have to be sorry the next time they defame a small time player. If you can't even get in the door to complain, nothing Theil did helped.

OK nothing is maybe arguing to hard. There will be some redress for ordinary folk from this. Some.

To your side of the argument, the stuff in the UK taking on News Ltd over abuse of phone tapping went beyond simple famous people win: some famous people (Elle McPherson) settled privately, but others secured real redress for more ordinary people.

I would distinguish the thiel case. That wasn't what I was basing my argument on; you hadn't mentioned Thiel. The Thiel case was a two part process, with two lessons:

1. Don't make an enemy of a powerful person (Outing Peter Thiel as gay) 2. Don't publish a video of Hulk Hogan

The court case was about #2 but Gawker's real error was #1.

Whereas in the bezos case both the legal wrong and the enemy making involve the same person: Bezos

So any outcomes are more direct. Not everyone can afford private investigars like Bezos, but anyone will be able to see if legal precedent comes from it. And PR precedent.

That would change future negotiating leverages. Before, people feared the blackmail. After, they can more credibly know that the blackmailers risk legal jeopardy. The blackmailers will know this too and possibly refrain.

Finally, for PR, people's risk calculus may change. It Bezos comes out a hero, others too may be able to look heroic while publicly resisting blackmail, if their case parallels this one. (I.e. Bezos already is getting divorced, so the blackmailers only have public embarrassment as a tool)

Jeff Bezos did not wreck small town shopping. People's collective desire for convenience did. And why is this a bad thing? Should people be forced to shop in a way they don't want to?

>> Its lovely to be able to buy anything.

Yea, that's why people do it. This is what consumers want and they voted with their wallets. If it wasn't Bezos then it would've been someone else. I'm sure you know Walmart? It has half a trillion in revenues and has been wiping out small stores before Amazon even existed.

How do the economics of small towns work anyway, in relation to the larger national and international economy?

> He might have made a worldwide empire which drives the economy, but he also helped wreck small-town shopping alongside costco and walmart, and their international cohort of economically efficient traders.

I'm of two minds about this:

1) Yes, exactly what you described happened and wiped out a lot of decent, local jobs

2) Holy hell, the vast majority of local businesses were mindblowingly horrible. From customer service to selection, they were just Bad with a capital B.

My go to story (I have many) was a local auto dealership who accidentally broke the back window on my parents car. No big, shit happens. Until this conversation:

Dealership comes out to talk to me at 11:00AM: "We're done with the car repairs, but, sorry, we broke the rear passenger window."

Me (waiting in the coffee area): "Well, that's annoying. But, no big, I'll pick up the car tomorrow then."

Dealership: "Um. It won't be done tomorrow."

Me (eyebrows just shot up): "Would you care to explain why it won't be done tomorrow?"

Dealership: "Well, the window isn't in stock locally."

Me (skeptically): "Okaaaaaaaay. So, then get it from Pittsburgh."

Dealership: "Um, it's not in stock there, either."

Me (starting to get steamed): "So, then get it from New York or DC and finish it the day after."

Dealership: "Well, they don't have stock either."

Me (getting well and truly wound up): "Really? I find that excessively difficult to believe. My mechanic in California is probably awake right now. I'm about to call him to find this window and have it sent here via FedEx if required. If I call him to look this up, am I really going to find that there is no stock?"

Dealership: "Erm, well...they have it in Pittsburgh, but it's an extra $20 to have it shipped tomorrow since our normal shipment just came yesterday and we're not scheduled for another one until mid next week."

Me (hitting the roof): "So, let me get this straight: your mechanics broke my window and I'm going to be down a car for almost a week because you lying dipshits are worried about 20 fucking dollars. GET THE GODDAMN WINDOW, ASSHOLE! I will pay the twenty dollars myself, if necessary. However, I WILL find someone at GM and make his life miserable until he calls this dealership's owner and makes his life miserable. GET MOVING AND GET THAT WINDOW NOW!!!"

This was around 5 years ago. While I still occasionally have an absolute gem (my favorite candy store from my hometown, for example), my general experience is that local customer service is worse than the big companies--something that you wouldn't think possible.

I've read both Bezos' letter and this article and I can't find what value this NYT article adds. There aren't any additional details, no comment from AMI or others, no additional context.

"Hey guys let's threaten one of the most powerful, shrewd businessman on the planet who has more money than God"

Well, rest in peace, hope Bezos doesn't launch them into space.

Another thing that strikes me is : Wouldn't that AMI lawyer feel embarrassed to type up that pathetic threat letter?

"Hi, I am a high-powered attorney; my client has instructed me to describe some photographs of you that some may construe as naughty..."

It just seems, I dunno, like beneath the dignity that one normally associates with being a lawyer? I mean damn, if that's what the job entails, I bet most people would rather drive a truck

The type of person who asks their lawyer to send a message like that probably only hires lawyers that are willing to send a message like that.

Baffling to see a _lawyer_ commit such an obvious and blatant opsec gaffe.

Also: can of whup-ass duely opened...

There is always a market for a lawyer that will say "Sure, I'll do that."

This is actually insane. I know how it’s so wrong, but I’ve always been curious at the inner workings of the behind the scenes things for the elite. It’s like a movie...good on Bezos for not giving in, hopefully we’ll see some justice here. Bad on him for cheating though

This is pretty disgusting, on the level of the "fappening". Can you imagine if the National Inquirer was blackmailing Jennifer Lawrence over her nude photos?

unfortunately yes

This seems like absolutely the right strategic move in his position.

I know it's morally wrong to exploit people like Jeff Bezos. If he were some nobody, this would not be news. As it is, he is undoubtedly one of the richest and most influential people in the world. Because of this, his very human mistakes aired out in public seems tit-for-tat. This is the sword of Damocles in action. It's a natural disincentive for too much ambition and opulence.

RIP National Enquirer.

Here's to hoping that this evidence gets us one step closer to impeaching Trump. The core theme of his letter seems to tie all of this back to the president.

It appears Jeff Bezos has partially doxed Howard Dylan. In the email he published he removed Dylan's phone number and email address, but the image included, probably as Dylan's signature, clearly shows his phone number and email address.

If your an exec at a media company, it is understood that your (business) phone and email will become widely shared public knowledge. This wasn't even his personal information, but simple a work email and phone that doesn't even belong to him, but to his employer.


Odd though it may sound, many girls enjoy nudes just the same as guys do......when they're coming from someone they're interested in and when it's been requested, which is often the missing factor.

So, the motivation is the same as when a girl sends nudes: to excite your recipient, and/or receive compliments.

Guys tend to enjoy getting nudes from their SO's. Why would gals be any different?

Because men and women are very different.

Not as much as you might think. Many women like sex and engaging in sexual activities, but historically saying as much gets them labeled as "slut"/"whore"/etc. Doesn't mean they don't share the same sexual desires as men.

TO BE CLEAR: this only applies to exchanges between consenting adult parties. The examples you see on places like r/creepypm's are not that; and to be honest I wouldn't want an unsolicited nude from a woman either. (Though some guys and gals do like that! Which is cool too! That's why sites like chaturbate and unmoderated omegle, as well as the many nsfw reddits, both male and female-targeting, exist)

Not that much

It is to their mistress, so I assume the intent it to titillate or arouse. Same reason anyone would send a message of a sexual nature.

Because my partner gets turned on by it, and I enjoy doing that.

Also, how is it that the AMI guy misspelled this phrase in his email (added a "k" to the end). I'd think he'd be quite familiar with this term, given his line of work.

Human Nature.


Don't confuse that with this. Absolutely nothing wrong/"creepy" about consenting adult parties voluntarily exchanging nudes.

Trump’s minion trying to blackmail Bezos because of the Washington Post’s investigations into the Trump admin. Just further evidence that Trump must be impeached, and sooner rather than later.


No need to bring any mods into this. The legal system can handle it.

Something about this begs belief. Stand by.

I hope he takes them to the cleaners.

World's richest man uses Medium to post an article? OK.

Where would you post it if you were him?

I'd buy a country and have it inscribed in the earth so it can be read from space.

You’re the kind of person I’m rooting for to become a billionaire.

Include a copy with every Amazon shipment for the next week.

That would actually be an abuse of power.

I would buy a newspaper and publish it there, maybe. No, nevermind.

>Where would you post it if you were him?

Wherever he wants! Anyone will publish his editorial, from the Washington Post to the National Enquirer. well maybe not the national enquirer.

That implies bias. Medium is neutral.

I'd have every echo on earth fire up at 6am and blare the message loud and clear, so as not to have any confusion.

My post, The Washington Post. ;)

AWS? The dude literally owns one of the largest web services on the planet.

Medium is hosted on AWS though.

alright, I'll give you that

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