Jeff Bezos has accused the National Enquirer's parent company (AMI) of extortion and blackmail, alleging that the AMI threatened to publish intimate photos said to have been shared with ex- news anchor Lauren Sanchez. The news organisation is reported to have argued the photos to be "necessary to show Amazon shareholders that [Bezos'] business judgment is terrible".
In an extraordinary move (and despite his lawyers' involvement behind the scenes), Bezos published a lengthy blog post on the matter, wittingly entitled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker", which voluntarily revealed the existence of the incriminating photos, together with an unusual level of detail.
In the UK, high profile individuals threatened with the release of intimate photographs more often reach for the law, a privacy injunction being the favoured approach. Where photographs are shared with the intent to cause distress, criminal proceedings under 'revenge porn' legislation also come into play. Blackmail, where proven, is of course also a criminal offence.
While public relations has an invaluable role to play, such an open and public response is a brave move. But as Bezos himself says, "If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" Sadly many victims of revenge porn (if this is what it is) don't realise they have any recourse.
“Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”