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.
“All I know is that I can’t sit back and let this continue, let him continue without the mask being removed.”
.. Their reward for this public-spirited bravery?
To be smeared as liars.
To be the objects of vicious criticism about their private lives — their marriages, divorces, and bankruptcies.
.. This incident happened almost 40 years ago, goes the outraged refrain. Why are these women only coming forward now?.. Here’s a better question: Why would any other woman, seeing what’s happened in the past week, ever come forward again?“This is exactly why women wait 40 years,” said Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who sued her longtime boss, Roger Ailes, for sexual harassment... “It’s weaponizing the fear and shame of sexual-assault victims against themselves,” wrote Seth Mandel, an opinion editor at the conservative New York Post. Even for Breitbart, he said, “this is some low stuff.”.. What did the Breitbart reporters find in Alabama? Virtually nothing, but that didn’t keep the media company (headed by former Trump strategist, perpetual bombthrower and Moore-booster Stephen K. Bannon) from publishing screaming headlines.. “She did not go to them — they called her,” Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, told Breitbart... We were meant to recoil in horror, I guess, at how Post journalists committed treasonous acts of journalism. Yes, they persuaded their sources to go on the record, sometimes by making the case that there is a greater good to be served.“Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don’t know one another.”.. Fox News’s Sean Hannity brought the network’s legal analyst, Mercedes Colwin, on his show to blast women who accuse powerful men, saying that they mostly do it for the money... Then, bringing the trashing full circle, Breitbart offered the Sinclair-owned station a megaphone with this headline: “Alabama ABC Affiliate Can’t Find One Voter Who Believes WaPo Report about Roy Moore in Man-on-the-Street Segment.” (Speaking of journalism basics, it’s almost always pointless to stick a microphone in front of random people who often have only heard the general outlines of a developing story.).. Of course, it’s not The Post’s credibility that’s really under attack here. It’s that of the women themselves, who had the courage to be named, quoted and shown in photographs.