Several media personalities actively floated the possibility that Saudi Arabia played a role in leaking billionaire Jeff Bezos’s racy text messages to his mistress before recent media reports torpedoed the idea.
Washington Post columnist Max Boot joined The Daily Beast as two of the biggest proponents of the theory, one that blew up Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported Michael Sanchez — the brother of Bezos’s lover — sold the Amazon CEO’s secrets for $200,000 to the National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc. (AMI). Other outlets picked up on the idea, especially after Bezos began stoking the theory.
Bezos, a media tycoon who purchased WaPo in 2013, suggested in a Feb. 7 blog post that his outlet’s coverage of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a potential reason for why people would target him. Subsequent reports have also noted American Media once asked Saudi Arabia to invest in the company to stave off bankruptcy. Boot and others then began adding spice to those theories.
“As the mystery deepens of how the National Enquirer obtained Jeff Bezos’s private communications, I am reminded that Saudi Arabia (which has no love lost for the Washington Post) bought very sophisticated spy software from an Israeli company,” Boot wrote in a Feb. 9 tweet that linked to a story he wrote in 2018 fleshing out his full contention.
The Daily Beast’s Iyad El-Baghdadi jumped on board as well.
“For the last two weeks, we’ve been investigating the connection between AMI’s leak Jeff Bezos’ personal texts and selfies, and Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in an extended Twitterthread Feb. 25, adding: “We’ve found more convergences of timing than can possibly be a coincidence.”
El-Baghdadi included a link to an article he published on the same day of the tweet titled “How the Saudis Made Jeff Bezos Public Enemy No. 1.”
He wrote: “It sounded almost like a conspiracy theory when Jeff Bezos not-so-subtly hinted that there might be a Saudi connection to the attempt to strong-arm him with his ‘below the belt selfies.”
He added: “But there’s mounting evidence that the de facto ruler of the kingdom has been trying to punish Bezos for the fierce coverage by his newspaper, The Washington Post, of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
The remaining portion of El-Baghdadi’s article attempts to make broad connections between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Donald Trump and AMI.
CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem provided some coverage for the theory as well, telling Brian Stelter on a Feb. 11 edition of “Reliable Sources” that Bezos would not have suggested the Saudis were involved without some credible evidence.
“Bezos may have been careless in his marriage … he’s not careless in terms of his business,” said Kayyem, who served as assistant secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs during the Obama-era. “He’s not going to throw a name out there like the Saudis without some basis in the memo, because it undermines the whole security assessment.”
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