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The Geopolitics Of Cheap Tabloids

Tabloids

For those who have been following the drama around the divorce of the world’s richest man, you are probably aware that Bezos finalized the divorce from his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie Bezos, a few days ago. You will also remember that Bezos on Thursday accused American Media Inc. (AMI), the country’s largest tabloid, of trying to blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate photos that he allegedly sent to his girlfriend unless he retracted his earlier claims that the Trump-friendly tabloid’s damning reporting on him was politically motivated.

On Friday, the tabloid reiterated its earlier position that its reporting on Bezos was lawful after Bezos claimed that he’d been blackmailed by the company’s CEO David Pecker with nude selfies while also denying any involvement of the White House in the unfolding drama. Trump, himself twice divorced, had wished Bezos good luck in his divorce, while sarcastically adding that "It’s going to be a beauty”.

And now, Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement with the National Enquirer’s (owned by AMI) reporting of Bezos’ extramarital affair with former news anchor Lauren Sanchez. In an unusually long blog post, the Amazon chief had alluded to Saudi Arabia’s displeasure at the Washington Post’s (owned by Jeff Bezos) coverage of the murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Bezos had also referenced alleged links between Saudi Arabia and AMI.

It sounds to me like a soap opera,” the kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir told CBS’ “Face the Nation” when asked about the country’s alleged involvement in the Enquirer’s leaks. The killing of Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate last October strained the kingdom’s ties with many of its western allies and exposed the country to possible sanctions.

Expensive split

If this sounds like a full-blown pantomime, it’s because it very nearly is.

All the drama began a month ago after Bezos sent out this longish tweet confirming earlier rumors about divorcing his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie Bezos. The political vultures were ready to pounce. A couple of hours later, the National Enquirer came through with a blockbuster exposé of the world’s richest couple alleging that the divorce was actually caused by the Amazon CEO cheating with Laura Sanchez, incidentally a recent divorcee herself. The Bezos-Mackenzie split will go down as the most expensive in history with Mackenzie set to receive roughly half of Bezos’ estimated net worth of $137 billion.



The Enquirer claims it had "tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and 'quality time' in hidden love nests," while also revealing that it had followed the highly secretive couple across five states over a four-month period. The tabloid also boasted of being in possession of "raunchy messages and erotic selfies" by the two. Related: 40% Of Canadians Pay Zero Income Tax

They say insanely rich people cheat differently. Bezos, allegedly, went as far as hiring Lin-Manuel Miranda, the famous ‘Hamilton’ star, to write and direct a Super Bowl commercial just so that the two lovebirds could spend more time together under an ostensibly legitimate alibi. Both have denied the infidelity and have said they began the relationship only after they officially separated from their spouses. Sanchez was formerly married to Patrick Whitesell, a major Hollywood talent scout, but divorced last autumn.

Shortly after the AMI publication, Bezos commissioned Gavin de Becker, a private security provider and investigator, to look at how the National Enquirer had managed to obtain and publish private texts and images of his while also exploring connections with Saudi Arabia. That did not sit well with David Pecker, AMI’s CEO and Chairman, with the Saudi connection seeming to particularly hit a raw nerve.

Related: Greed Is Ruling The Markets Once Again

Apparently, AMI claims that the images should be published as newsworthy in order to showcase to Amazon shareholders that Bezos has poor judgment.  No doubt, some people are wondering: What about those nude selfies? How defensible is AMI’s claim that it obtained them lawfully? Here’s what the tabloid says:

‘‘Please be advised that our newsgathering and reporting on matters involving your client, including any use of your client’s “private photographs,” has been, and will continue to be, consistent with applicable laws. As you know, “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC Sec. 107.

The question of what constitutes “fair use” may have to be decided in court. It’s probably not going to be as straightforward as you would expect considering that AMI and the National Enquirer are both old hands in these types of cases given the nature of their business.

As for Amazon stock, no major harm has come to it though it will be interesting to see what happens if they split assets equally and Mackenzie ends up owning nearly 10 percent of the company.

By Alex Kimani for Safehaven.com

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