“Mr. Bezos and his associates deliberately promoted a Hollywood-sized misdirection, with spies and political conspiracy extending all the way to the White House and Saudi Arabia,” wrote Jenkins. “If this doesn’t remind you of the Steele dossier, perhaps it should. Except that the instrument for making these speculations publishable was not the FBI; it was Mr. Bezos’ own Washington Post. Never mind that the only real lead Mr. Bezos’ agent provided to the paper concerned the possible role of Ms. Sanchez’s pro-Trump brother. If so, means and motive were complete: It was unnecessary to speculate about Donald Trump and the Saudis—a filigree spun on top of the tawdry facts to distract and excite the media.”
While Jenkins did not defend “the kind of journalism that National Enquirer does,” and said he does sympathize with Bezos because he had his privacy invaded, Jenkins said we cannot abandon The First Amendment in this case.
“Mr. Bezos’ interest seems self-evident to me: Injecting the Trump-Saudi red herring draws attention away from his own carelessness and that of Ms. Sanchez,” Jenkins wrote. “After all, being a hero of the anti-Trump resistance, especially when Amazon lately has been vilified from the left, is better than being the chump starring in a garden-variety case of rich-guy infidelity … I also know what I don’t know. Our press seems increasingly helpless in the face of evidence-free red herrings aimed at its erogenous zones. See the widely circulated email in which Bob Woodward uncritically associates himself with Mr. Bezos’ narrative. The incentive to participate in other people’s idealized self-images is well-known in psychology. Journalists should guard against it.”