Bezos and The National Enquirer – Through the PR Looking Glass

Peter Himler, Founding Principal, Flatiron Communications LLC

I was asked to share some thoughts on Jeff Bezos’s audacious PR gambit aimed at the blackmail-happy National Enquirer and its Trump puppet owner David Pecker.

I was hardly alone in acknowledging the fearless guile of the billionaire owner of Amazon and The Washington Post. It prompted my tweet of a line lifted from the inimitable Kara Swisher’s opinion piece in The New York Times (which she in turn retweeted):

Peter Himler on Jeff Bezos

I was also asked to comment on Jeff Bezos’ Medium post. The general  consensus appears to be a win for a him and a loss for Pecker. I responded as follows:

Yes. A surprising big win for Jeff Bezos. Who’d have thought in the age of #MeToo, a married billionaire who texted explicit images of himself to a young woman with whom he’s having an extramarital affair would emerge as a victim and hero? (Anthony Weiner, eat your heart out.) 

This “win” likely stems from the media punditry’s instant embrace and clamorous amplification of that narrative and these three mitigating factors:

— A healthy disdain for Messrs. Pecker and Trump, personally

— An admiration for the Bezos-owned Washington Post, and

— A natural abhorrence for The Enquirer’s mendacious brand of journalism.

Mr. Bezos’s PR consiglieres should also be commended for recognizing the value of a pre-emptive attack on The Enquirer, even though it produced the NYPost cover story headline “Bezos Exposes Pecker.”  (see photo above.) They leveraged Mr. Bezos’s (bully) pulpit to wrest control of the story narrative. 

Finally, I was pleased to see Mr. Bezos’s use of Twitter, a rare occurrence for him, linking to Ev Williams’ platform Medium, which played host to the jaw-dropping Bezos post.

Based on AMI’s statement, the Enquirer parent is now clearly on the defensive, if not running scared.

We haven’t heard the end of this saga now that the Special Counsel’s office is assessing whether AMI breached its plea deal that granted Pecker & Co. immunity. The prospect is causing all kinds of consternation at the tabloid and prompted yet another statement from AMI’s lawyers AMI lawyer: National Enquirer’s emails to Jeff Bezos ‘absolutely’ weren’t blackmail” .


About the Author: Global PR agency veteran Peter Himler is founding principal of Flatiron Communications LLC, a NYC-based PR and digital media consultancy that helps established and emerging companies capitalize on the latest PR techniques and digital media strategies to advance their business goals. He can often be found on Twitter at @peterhimler 

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