Jeff Bezos has been in a very public spat with American Media, Inc. (AMI) over allegations published by the National Enquirer that he had an extramarital affair. It has been reported that Bezos is seeking $75 million in damages from AMI for defamation. However, this is not the first time that Bezos has sued a news outlet for defamation. In fact, he once sued the now-defunct Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger for libel.
The California Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s finding that hearsay was used as the foundation for Sanchez’s defamation lawsuit on Thursday. The court ruled that Sanchez could not depend on his own declaration of what others had told him rather than submitting sworn declarations of the reporters he claimed to have spoken with in order to comply with California’s anti-SLAPP law, which provides for the fast dismissal of defamation claims.
Associate Justice Helen Bendix of the Second Appellate District wrote, “Had plaintiff himself witnessed defendants make defamatory comments, he may testify to such comments without breaking the hearsay rule.” “In this case, however, the plaintiff’s affidavit narrated what reporters informed him they had seen, not what the plaintiff himself had experienced. The statements of the reporters were presented as proof of the hearsay.
Bezos made allegations in 2019 that he was the target of a blackmail scheme because of his affair with news reporter Lauren Sanchez. Bezos claimed in a blog post the National Enquirer publisher American Media tried to extort him before publishing a story detailing the affair, which included personal text messages from Lauren Sanchez’s phone.
Bezos stated that American Media told him and his head of security, Gavin De Becker, not to try to figure out how the tabloid obtained the leaked information. However, multiple news outlets later reported that Michael Sanchez was the source of the leak and had received $200,000 for accessing his younger sister’s phone.
Nevertheless, Michael Sanchez later claimed that Bezos and De Becker were the source of false claims to journalists about nude photos obtained by the National Enquirer.
While the naked images just weren’t published by the tabloid, Michael Sanchez sued Bezos for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He accused Bezos of claiming he leaked nude photos of Bezos and his sister and spread a story about Bezos’ brother Mark’s affair.
Michael Sanchez claimed in his complaint that Bezos painted the leak as part of a conservative conspiracy involving high-profile politicians such as Carter Page, Roger Stone, and the Saudi government.
Bezos responded with an anti-SLAPP motion, describing Michael Sanchez’s lawsuit as extortion and a threat.