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- While Jeff Bezos’ bombshell blog post on Thursday night revealed a lot of details about some sexual photos and texts he sent, it didn’t say much about the central question.
- That question is: How did the National Enquirer get the photos in the first place?
- The public doesn’t know the answer to that, but everyone seems to have a theory, some more plausible than others.
The bombshell blog post Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos published on Thursday revealed a lot of details about some sexual messages he sent but didn’t say much about the central question: How did the National Enquirer get a hold of those photos and text messages in the first place?
Bezos has accused the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI), of attempting to blackmail him with embarrassing texts and nude photos sent to his romantic partner, and implied that politics involving President Donald Trump and the Saudis could be behind the story of how his texts leaked. AMI’s board said it believes it acted legally but is investigating the claims.
Meanwhile, a number of other people have hinted at details and floated theories about it, some more credible than others. Let’s dive in.
Was it spying by a government entity?
The man who is investigating the incident, Bezos’ longtime private-security guy Gavin de Becker, told The Washington Post that he didn’t believe the billionaire was hacked.
Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on Thursday night and said he’s spoken “extensively” with de Becker.
“Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages,” Roig-Franzia said.
Roig-Franzia didn’t say if that government entity was foreign or from the US. Bezos’ post insinuated both Trump and the Saudis were potentially involved in some way but didn’t offer evidence for those claims.
It is entirely plausible that Bezos’ phone was not the source. Bezos is a computer engineer by training who runs one of the world’s largest tech companies. Phone security wouldn’t be a foreign concept to him.
Could it have been orchestrated by Lauren Sanchez’s brother?
Gavin de Becker confirmed days ago to The Daily Beast that his investigation looked into Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez, a publicist and Hollywood talent manager who said he worked with his sister. Sanchez is a Trump supporter who knows people in Trump’s orbit, including Roger Stone and Carter Page.
No one has said how they think he could have pulled it off. He doesn’t appear to have any hacking credentials. However, it seems conceivable that he could have had access to his sister’s phone or a computer synced with messages.
With access to a phone, and the password to it, it’s not hard to find text messages and pictures. It’s also possible to install spying software on a phone. However, hacking a phone, even with physical access to it, is never as easy as it sounds for a nontechnical person.
Sanchez has vehemently denied any involvement in the Enquirer story.
Could it have been the NSA?
No one with credible knowledge has publicly accused the NSA of any involvement, although Sanchez posited a variety of theories to explain the leaks, including foreign governments, spying by rival tech companies, and the work of the “deep state” within the US government, according to emails viewed by The Washington Post between Sanchez and de Becker.
Interestingly, Glenn Greenwald – the journalist who reported on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s bulk data collection of phone records – tweeted that the Bezos story “reminded him” of one of the capabilities the NSA was accused of, gathering porn and sexting messages.
The Bezos story reminded me of one of the NSA programs we revealed with the Snowden documents that got less attention than it deserved: the NSA tracks "radicalizers" to store their porn browsing history & sex chats in order to ruin their reputation https://t.co/NljdYifVfp
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 8, 2019
Still, it seems implausible at best that the NSA could have been involved in leaking Bezos texts to the Enquirer or that the Saudis could have managed this.
If the public will ever find out how the hack occurred remains to be seen. Should Bezos’ blog post lead to someone being charged with a crime, more details may be revealed.
In the meantime, the episode is a good reminder not to sext if the discovery that you’re doing so could ruin your life.
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