If the conservatives are willing to say that cash directed toward speech is speech itself (as opposed to an ancillary activity deserving of some but not all the same protections), then I'm sure they're prepared to say that abstention of speech is also speech itself.
> If Bezos could show that [the National Enquirer's] publication activities were also driven by partisan affiliation, or worse, money or influence from a murderous foreign government like Saudi Arabia, the damage would be multiplied.
Did the author even go to law school? SCOTUS has made it clear that politically motivated money is speech (Citizens United v. FEC) and therefore nearly categorically shielded from even content-neutral regulation aimed at preserving the sanctity of the electoral process; except when an unelected bureaucrat decides to add a political organization to a government blacklist, in which case a donation of money alone and with the undisputed, sole purpose of peaceful political advocacy constitutes intentional, material support of terrorism subject to criminal prosecution (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project).
Does the Trump administration or a majority of the Supreme Court dislike the National Enquirer or Saudi Arabia? If not, then its case closed--money is speech and the exchange of it is no different than the exchange of the most strictly, constitutionally protected words. If yes, then money is a purely utilitarian thing and merely exchanging it without any ill intent can be tantamount to shooting infidels--game on. This is First Amendment 101, people.
> The demand that Bezos refrain from attributing political motive to AMI could itself be a “thing of value.” But even if that were not the case, a release of potential legal claims plainly is a thing of economic value. So it appears that AMI, as a corporate entity; Fine, its lawyer; and anyone within the corporation who approved Fine’s demands could potentially be charged with felony extortion.