Ronan Farrow said Thursday that he and “at least one other prominent journalist” who had reported on the National Enquirer and President Donald Trump received blackmail threats from the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., over their work.
Farrow’s allegation came just hours after Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos published a remarkable public post accusing the National Enquirer of attempting to extort and blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate photos unless he stopped investigating the publication. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In a tweet Thursday night, Farrow wrote that he and the unnamed journalist “fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI.” Farrow, who last April published a story in the New Yorker about the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice — in which stories are buried by paying off sources — that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Farrow, in his tweet, added that he “did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.”
AMI did not immediately return a message from The Post about Farrow’s claim.
In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted, “We were warned explicitly by insiders that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of @AP journalists looking into the tabloid’s efforts on behalf of Trump.” Bridis spent 11 years as the editor of the AP’s Washington investigative team.
The relationship between the National Enquirer and Trump has been repeatedly scrutinized by the media, given the president’s long friendship with AMI chief executive David Pecker. Beyond Pecker directing the Enquirer to publish favorable stories about Trump in 2016, last year AMI admitted to paying $150,000 in hush money to a woman who allegedly had an affair with Trump to prevent the woman’s story from “influencing the election.” Federal prosecutors in December reached an agreement with AMI that they would not prosecute the company for its role in attempting to influence the election if they cooperated and admitted to paying off the woman.
On Thursday, Bezos wrote that he began investigating the tabloid after it published a story, complete with text messages, that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos said the Enquirer wanted him and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, to make a false public statement saying they “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” Emails published by Bezos appeared to show Enquirer executives threatening to publish a series of salacious photos of him and Sanchez if the demands were not met.