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.
AMI probably just broke their non-prosecution agreement with the SDNY
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:
> 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.
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”.
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.
> 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.
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.
But I'm making a claim about the law of Washington, not federal law.
IANAL, no evidence, just opinions, etc.
Maybe he could pull off a buy & kill of the whole NI.
That being said, I also don't believe what Thiel did was ethical or just. It's a scary prospect.
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.
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.
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.
You might want to multiply that by three orders of magnitude ;)
“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.”
“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.
saying "trump considers me an enemy" is also just a slightly obfuscated way of saying "i'm trustworthy" to about half the country.
In general I agree that the fourth estate needs protection but I don't think arbitrary words on newsprint automatically makes you qualified.
Who gets to decide what is arbitrary?
In order for Bezos to destroy them legally, they still need to have messed up in some way.
The prosecution of companies and individuals for the breaking of just laws is something to cheer
"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?
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.
so while tabloids can be annoying they sometimes are capable of breaking a story, usually only the sordid type, but those can be amazing
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.
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"?
Otherwise destroying 1 paparazzi or 1 tabloid will make another 5 pop up in their place.
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~ 
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.
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.”
> 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.
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.
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.
Still haven't figured out exactly how it would work.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
Of course, I already know the answer.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Well, rest in peace, hope Bezos doesn't launch them into space.
"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
Also: can of whup-ass duely opened...
So, the motivation is the same as when a girl sends nudes: to excite your recipient, and/or receive compliments.
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)
Wherever he wants! Anyone will publish his editorial, from the Washington Post to the National Enquirer. well maybe not the national enquirer.