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Jeff Bezos affair saga is even more embarrassing than you thought

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Jeff Bezos affair saga is even more embarrassing than you thought

When you’re super-rich, you never have to say, “The dog ate my homework” or “The bitch set me up.” The very, very rich are very, very different from you and me: They can afford to construct spectacular, dream-palace excuses when they do things like cheat on their wives.

“The evil sort-of-king of the Saudis hacked my cellphone because my newspaper was tough on him” is an excuse only Jeff Bezos would have lashed together. The new Amazon expose “Amazon Unbound,” by Brad Stone, clarifies that Bezos’ claim is about as credible as the Amazon Fire Phone.

[Note to editor: Geez, this piece is going to be pretty harsh. Can I publish it anonymously so my Amazon Prime packages don’t mysteriously get delayed? Ed: No.]

Bezos leaned heavily on his marriage to MacKenzie Tuttle in order to soften his public image with the humble “My wife is the really impressive one here” routine calculated to make journalists purr. He bragged that he did the dishes every night and said she was so resourceful, she could “get me out of a Third World prison.” But MacKenzie, a shy novelist, would make an awkward fit for a “Midnight Express” scenario. She couldn’t even handle cocktail parties, which she once called “nerve-wracking.”

But by the spring of 2018, Bezos was involved with the much more gregarious Lauren Sanchez, a va-va-voom former Miss Junior America New Mexico, “Extra” reporter and helicopter pilot who knew everybody in Hollywood, mainly because she was married to one of the top talent agents, Patrick Whitesell. Her hobby was suspiciously aligned with Amazon’s last-minute demand for a helipad at its proposed “HQ2” location in Queens.

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Tuttle were married from 1993-2019.
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Tuttle were married from 1993 to 2019.
Toni Anne Barson/Getty Images

This Beverly Hills Bond Villain touch was the last straw for some New Yorkers, and after a Democratic outcry led by AOC, Bezos nixed the project on Valentine’s Day 2019.

Bezos publicly made clear Sanchez was his new lady on several occasions in 2018, within view of paparazzi and in the company of her brother Michael, a “handsome, gay Trump supporter” and agent for right-wing pundits and reality TV stars, notes Stone in his book. Michael Sanchez declared bankruptcy in 2010, owing his sister $165,000. The pair bickered over the years but they were also unusually tight: When Bezos sent her naughty texts, she frequently forwarded them to Michael.

Oops. No crown prince of Saudi Arabia needed: Bezos made the same mistake as a nervous high school girl trying to appease her jerk boyfriend. He did not understand that his texts could go public. One of the all-time tech geniuses failed to grasp the concept known as “forwarding.” As if we needed more evidence that even the greatest brains are slaves to decisions made from their pants. Like Anthony Weiner and Donald Trump, Bezos is one of those guys who would have been much better off in a world in which smartphones hadn’t been invented.

Jeff Bezos's illicit selfies were allegedly leaked by the brother of Lauren Sanchez.
Jeff Bezos’ illicit selfies were allegedly leaked by the brother of Lauren Sanchez.
Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Bezos has himself to blame in another way: Earlier, his Washington Post delved into the (ultimately not terribly meaningful) story of how the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, had paid sources for dirt about Trump, only to bury it. This made the Enquirer mad enough to swerve away from its usual celeb focus and send its reporters after Bezos. As it was doing so, Michael Sanchez sent an email to a close friend (the pair had once gotten tattoos together) who was also one of AMI’s Hollywood reporters: Andrea Simpson. He told Simpson he knew about a married “Bill Gates type” who was having an affair with a “B-list married actress,” meaning his sister. Ouch, bro.

Michael Sanchez said he had compromising pictures to sell. As a tease, seeking to maximize his payday, he sent photos with faces obscured. “By the body, I think it may be Jeff Bezos,” she wrote to her boss. (We know all this thanks to a lawsuit Michael Sanchez later brought.) This set off some bells back at company HQ in New York, and by “bells” I mean “efflorescent spasms of ecstasy.” Think: Meg Ryan in the deli. Editors quickly guessed that the girl in the photos was Lauren Sanchez, and when Michael flew out to have dinner with them, he confirmed it. Everyone testified under oath that he was the sole source of the salacious material.

Jeff Bezos had claimed AMI tried to blackmail him.
Jeff Bezos had claimed publisher AMI tried to blackmail him.
Francis Mascarenhas/REUTERS

Enquirer publisher David Pecker, nervous about getting sued by a bullet-headed billionaire, and the aftereffects of the catch-and-kill scandal regarding Trump, insisted the Bezos story be completely airtight.

Michael Sanchez was such a cooperative little rat that Pecker & Co. wondered if they were being set up. He even tipped off the Enquirer when he was going to have dinner with his sister and Bezos, so they could station photographers nearby to secretly take pictures. Sanchez is such a twisted bastard that he convinced himself he was doing the lovebirds a favor by making their affair public: “Everything I did protected Jeff, Lauren and my family,” he emailed Stone. “I would never sell out anyone.”

Except he pocketed $200,000 from AMI doing just that. He groused that he thought his contract with AMI stipulated that they wouldn’t run the juiciest stuff he gave them. (When he showed them a picture that purported to be of Bezos’ genitalia, though, it was actually just a stock image he had lifted from the web; he never did have a below-the-belt Bezos photo.)

When they had the story nailed down, Enquirer editors sent a text to Lauren Sanchez and Bezos requesting an interview. Lauren, panicked, sought her brother’s advice; he coolly reassured her he would use his contacts at the Enquirer to help her out. For this she paid him a $25,000-a-month fee on top of the money he was pocketing from the tabloid. Then he told her with a straight face he was going to go to New York and sort out those newspaper nasties for her. Classic. But keep in mind that Bezos was dumb enough to keep having dinner with this guy and never suspect that their Wonder Twins mutual clinginess might pose a problem.

Bezos said AMI was blackmailing him in an infamous Medium post, a charge that was unfounded given that prosecutors who looked into the matter two years ago declined to do anything. Sensing that his allegation was thin, Bezos also insinuated that “for reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.” AMI had once pursued a deal with the Saudis to buy Time magazine, but every documented detail about the Bezos-Sanchez story is easily explained without any involvement by the kingdom.

Nor did Trump have anything to do with the story, despite the friendly relationship between AMI and the president. Powerful forces may indeed despise Jeff Bezos, but he simply stepped on his own Amazon Prime package. Trump couldn’t entirely avoid the fun, though, issuing one of his funniest concern-trolls back when he was allowed to have a Twitter account: “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bezos being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Washington Post.”

Jeff Bezos and Amazon had planned to build a second headquarters in Queens before the plans were scrapped.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon had planned to build a second headquarters in Queens before the plans were scrapped.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

When Bezos finally decided he couldn’t stop the Enquirer, he tried to neutralize its report by breaking the news himself, announcing his impending divorce on Twitter. Michael Sanchez, burned, texted an Enquirer editor his apologies that Bezos had ruined their fun, saying, “Thanks for trying to work with me, even if those f—s wouldn’t.”

The Enquirer then published its big scoop online, ahead of its weekly print run, because it was the details of the story provided by Michael Sanchez, not the mere news of the breakup, that constituted a blockbuster scoop. Sanchez came under suspicion from Bezos’ private investigators, so he began to mislead various media outlets, including the Washington Post, which falsely reported that the Enquirer had begun reporting on Bezos’ affair in the summer of 2018, months before that happened. After a few months of this, AMI decided it had had enough, and exposed its rat, saying Michael Sanchez has “waived any source confidentiality” by making false representations.

Funnily enough, though, Bezos actually did get hacked by the Saudis, but it had nothing to do with the Sanchez affair and it was before the regime murdered Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, infuriating the Washington Post and inspiring a series of exposes about the Saudis. Bezos got nailed by the kind of scam that is so basic, it is usually deployed against elderly grandparents, or John Podesta. After a buddy-buddy trip to Saudi Arabia, in which Bezos promised to build $2 billion worth of servers in the desert, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sent an encrypted text (in Arabic) to Bezos’ phone, which Bezos unwisely opened. Oops, again: The file contained Pegasus, a malware app developed by Israelis.

Jeff Bezos had claimed Saudi Arabia was behind the leaks of his texts because of the Washington Post's coverage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Jeff Bezos had claimed Saudi Arabia was behind the leaks of his texts because of the Washington Post’s coverage of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Amr Nabil/AP

So: Bezos is a supervillain? Fake news. The real deal is MBS, who figured it might be useful to have some dirt on America’s richest man. This guy is such a ruthlessly cunning James Bond adversary, he might as well be called Oilfinger.

As for Bezos, he’s more like Doctor Slow.

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