Jeff Bezos: Amazon CEO, the National Enquirer, Lewd Photos, and Extortion

The richest man in the United States blogged that he has a problem. The National Enquirer threatened him with publishing photos that were obtained somehow from his private e-mail. The photos were of Mr. Bezos were described as follows: “A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.” The photos were sent to Lauren Sanchez, with whom he was having an affair, an affair that resulted in the announcement of the Bezos divorce.

The soap-operaish magazine offered to not publish the photos if Mr. Bezos would acknowledge that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated. Mr. Bezos wrote that he would not “capitulate to extortion and blackmail.” The coverage of the story has praised Mr. Bezos for his brilliant strategy to thwart the efforts of the Enquirer. One commentator noted that Mr. Bezos has greater stature because we now know he is “like one of us.”

Could we pause for a minute? Those of us who reach 55 years of age, as Mr. Bezos has, (or older) have learned learned a thing or two and grown up a bit or three. Here is a list of some of the lessons we who will never be billionaires have learned:

1. What you send in e-mail is not private. Hackers, who are also wearing only underwear, sit int their basements day and night, some in Pakistan and some in Duluth, finding ways to hack into others’ information. They prefer credit card and bank info, but if they can entertain themselves with photos of scantily clad entrepreneurs (old guys) trying to charm younger women, well, they are all in.
2. Selfies of oneself in briefs is really not at the heart of true romance.
3. Grow up, stay grown up, and find something better to do, such as setting an example for your three children.
4. There is no correlation between wealth and intelligence. Hollywood is a lab of Petri dishes for that hypothesis.There are also various political labs around the country testing the same theory (see the Commonwealth of Virginia). Sometimes the intelligence was never there, sometimes the intelligence loses in a coup d’stat of the brain by ego, money, or hormones. but disappear it does. Like all powerful leaders, Mr. Bezos needs a few non-sycophantic folks around him, at the ready with the phrase, “Not a good idea.” He has the funds for a nixer, a sort of substitute for arrested intelligence and/or good judgment. Ah, the blessing of self-made discretion that modest means offer.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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