Thank You, Mr. Bezos For Your Strength And Courage In The Face Of Bullying And Exploitation

hat Victims Of Emotional Abuse Can Learn From Jeff Bezos' Letter To David Peckerl
Entertainment And News, Heartbreak

When I read the bold, shocking letter Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, published on Medium entitled, “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” I was ready to burst with gratitude. I was awed by the incredible courage and integrity he displayed in response to being personally threatened and exploited by American Media, Inc. (AMI), publisher of the National Enquirer.

In a nutshell, David Pecker, president, chairman and CEO of AMI, threatened to run intimate photos of Bezos and reported girlfriend Lauren Sanchez if The Washington Post (which is owned by Bezos) continued its investigation into AMI and its possible ties with Saudi Arabia — an offer Bezos roundly and publicly refused.

Thank you, Jeff Bezos for standing up so firmly to the AMI bullies trying to exploit and humiliate you. What you faced is similar to threats of revenge porn or exposure of other embarrassing material or information abusers send to men and women (but mostly women) every single day.

Bezos' measured, courageous and morally robust response offers us a service in two very big ways.

First, what he did humanizes him deeply.

He's just like us! — this mega-billionaire! — in that his heart and libido took over and he shared silly selfies just like many normal people do. He showed us that he’s also human, with emotional impulses, including a deep desire to connect emotionally with another human being. He showed that he is also someone who could get carried away with the excitement of those feelings of “young love.”

Who can’t remember the intoxicating, tingling sensations of having a new crush? Oh, the silly things Mother Nature causes us to do as our hormones surge, when we feel in love, desired, and desirous thanks to a new love interest?

I think back to the impassioned poems I would write to my then-boyfriend and now-husband in our early days of dating and I cringe. At the same time, I marvel at the lack of inhibition that almost everyone feels in those early romantic days, the impulses that enable us to show ourselves and connect so powerfully with someone else. Endless studies show that being in the "honeymoon" phase literally changes your brain chemistry, explaining why Bezos and Sanchez would express themselves so freely and take such risks in doing so. 

Sure, is it a biological head fake because hormones like oxytocin and norepinephrine are surging? Of course it is, but it doesn’t make those feelings of validation and euphoria any less real.

Ok, it must be asked: should Bezos have gotten the Anthony Weiner memo that sending suggestive pictures over his phone is not a good idea? Yes, clearly.

RELATED: Who Is Lauren Sanchez? Details About The Woman In The Middle Of Jeff Bezos' $137 Billion Divorce And AMI Nude Pics Scandal

Does Jeff Bezos deserve to be humiliated, blackmailed and extorted by these private, personal activities because he owns a newspaper that is perceived as a threat to AMI?

Clearly not.

I know many readers will be outraged that this also comes at a great cost to his wife, MacKenzie, and a key reason he's so vulnerable is because he was caught cheating. Doesn't he deserve blame for that?

Well, I don’t think anyone would advocate for infidelity, but I am not here to pass judgment. I have no idea what has gone on in his marriage. It is none of our business. This could be a serious breach of trust and infidelity between two private people but I believe that is completely beside the point when it comes to why Bezos deserves our praise.

I can’t help thinking, as I read about the various sexy selfies with the goofy captions detailed in the threatening emails Bezos received from AMI, that they describe a man who was acting completely normally, completely humanly — in private — with a consenting adult. And his privacy was wrongly, unfairly and egregiously breached.

We are all flawed, vulnerable human beings. There are things we have all done in private that would leave us feeling humiliated if they were ever made public. That's why we do them in private in the first place.

RELATED: Who Is David Pecker? New Details About The Man Jeff Bezos Said Was Extorting Him Over Nude Photos

Second, Bezos showed his strength as a leader and took responsibility for his actions.

This is especially meritorious in a time when virtually no one — especially our most important leaders and public figures — seems to take responsibility for their decisions. They want to blame the media, the government, the Republicans, the Democrats, and even their parents for their failures and misdeeds — anyone but themselves.

But not Jeff Bezos. He stood up like a real leader should. He was brave and courageous. He was honest and took responsibility for his actions, for his own sake, for the sake of others who are subject to exploitation, and for the journalistic sanctity of The Washington Post.

What a novel idea to accept blame for your personal missteps!

Bezos stood up to a bully that is harming our country and threatening journalistic integrity. He stood up to a bunch of immoral people who have a terrible history of intimidating and exploiting others.

Ronan Farrow acknowledged that AMI has threatened him as well. There are countless others (that we will never know) who have been blackmailed and exploited by AMI. I suspect many more people will come forward to share how they were bullied and threatened by David Pecker and employees of AMI.

I hope this bold move causes AMI to face serious repercussions to ensure they never wield their journalistic power in such a harmful way ever again. It's heartening to see that federal prosecutors are investigating AMI as a result of Bezos' claims and the AMI board is also opening a review.

It’s crucial to underscore that Bezos was being threatened because The Washington Post is exploring issues related to AMI and David Pecker that could prove to be dangerous, uncomfortable and maybe even illegal.

RELATED: Details About Jeff Bezos' Biological Father, Who Died Before They Ever Got To Meet

It’s worth reading the whole article Bezos wrote but these two paragraphs especially stand out. After disclosing in considerable detail the nature of the sexy selfies taken by Bezos and Sanchez that AMI threatened to reveal, Bezos wrote:

"Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. 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? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)

"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.”

I appreciate deeply that Bezos took a stand for himself, the sanctity of The Washington Post and what it continues to do as a courageous, upstanding journalistic enterprise — a critical, independent entity that can stand up to various individuals, businesses, and governmental entities, revealing or potentially revealing what these individuals and organizations may not want out in the open.

The good news for Bezos is that what he did to rectify the situation is so much more powerful than the embarrassing details of his personal life that he exposed. He showed the greater parts of himself — the integrity, strength, and conviction that really define him. Those characteristics will forever shine brighter and more powerfully than the brief descriptions of his private pictures.

His legacy will show him to be a brilliant, successful leader, a man with integrity who accepted personal responsibility when it really mattered, and a vulnerable human being not immune to the whimsies of the heart.

Thank you, Jeff Bezos, for your courage and leadership.

Now, Mr. Pecker and AMI: What was it you were so threatened by in the Post’s investigation that caused your "apoplexy?" Let’s get to the real story and understand what David Pecker is trying so desperately to hide.

RELATED: Who Is Jeff Bezos' Wife? Details About Their 25-Year Marriage (And Impending $137 Billion Divorce)

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Andrea Miller is the CEO & Founder of YourTango and author of Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love.

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