No thank you, Mr. Pecker

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.

AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.

“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”

Here’s a piece of context: 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. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.

.. Back to the story: Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.

.. 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, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.

Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here: I will not report embarrassing information about you if you do X for me. And if you don’t do X quickly, I will report the embarrassing information.

.. These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism.

Surprise! It’s Kind of Standard for Sexual-Assault Accusers to Face Scrutiny!

I can’t believe I even have to explain this this, but posing as a sexual-assault victim is a despicable thing to do. It hurts actual victims by making the public even less likely to believe their stories, while many are already too afraid to come forward because they’re worried they’ll be written off as liars. I know the president of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe; he’s always been kind to me, and yet I still have to say that I’m absolutely horrified by these actions.

.. (Because a 14-year-old from a broken home definitely had the resources to take on a district attorney in a he-said-she-said legal battle!)

.. As a I previously wrote in a column for National Review, the Washington Post’s reporting about Roy Moore was nothing like that Rolling Stone campus sexual-assault story that turned out to be false. Rolling Stone relied on only one, single unidentifiable source, while the WaPo had four on-the-record victims — and their stories were backed up by more than 30 corroborating sources.

.. The worst part of all of this, though, is that it doesn’t even matter: The fact that Project Veritas’s sting backfired, and wound up being an additional argument for the victims, will be completely lost on anyone who needs to understand it. O’Keefe himself knows this; he actually sent out a fundraising email after the news of his botched sting broke (insisting that “we already got our story”), and I’m sure he’ll get donations from it.