The Bezos-AMI debacle is part of a larger pattern of silencing witnesses and burying evidence, which in turn is part of a movement to undermine rule of law.
First, the Bezos-AMI story in a nutshell:
Trump inserted himself into the story by gloating in a Tweet (attached)
Bezos hinted that the WaPo’s “unrelenting coverage” of Khashoggi’s murder prompted AMI’s attack.
AMI then threatened Bezos that if he didn’t call off the investigation into how they got his texts, they'd publish sexual explicit photos of him.
Yes, this is extortion and a crime (known as blackmail).
Bezos’s astonishing post is here:
He points out that most people can't withstand this kind of extortion.
This is not a coincidence.
The Saudis drew a red line against anyone associating them with Khashoggi’s killers. I wonder why (sarcasm)
Suppressing truth should sound familiar: Trump life presents a pattern of suppressing truth. For example, his nondisclosure agreements. For more on that, see:
“I alone have the answers” and “I alone can save the nation” and “my instincts are better than the logic used by elites.”
For more on how this torpedoing of truth happens, see:
Putin did this partly by criminalizing libel. hrw.org/news/2012/07/1…
Criminalizing libel is a way for an autocrat to use law enforcement to silence annoying journalists.
Trump—who gets a lot of his ideas from watching Putin—has repeatedly called for the US to “toughen” our libel laws. latimes.com/nation/la-na-t… I wonder why (sarcasm)
Here we see an overlap of methods: AMI uses one of Putin’s favorite silencing techniques.
(Aside: They’re also all invested in the hydrocarbon industry, which explains denying climate change — a lucrative example of suppressing truth.)
Without truth or a shared “public sphere” you can't have rule of law. Without a common sphere, the results of investigations and even jury verdicts have no meaning.
The technique is simple: Torpedo factuality and set yourself up as the Dear Leader who alone holds the truth.
In May, a NYT article commented that crimes are no longer a disqualification for GOP. washingtonpost.com/powerpost/crim…
Just look at Roy Moore, and Former NY Congressman Michael Grimm.
He compared his conviction to what Trump is “going through.”
Lawbreaking is almost a "badge of honor." (NYT earlier)
They can’t seem to stop breaking laws, even after they’re caught.
AMI didn’t last a month before trying to blackmail Bezos.
I've argued that the Trump-GOP prefers a Putin-style oligarchy to liberal democracy (using that phrase on purpose). For more, see:
Some suggest the fearlessness comes from certainty that Trump will pardon them.
But the theory fails because so many of the crimes are state crimes, beyond the reach of presidential pardon.
I suggest their fearlessness comes from a (mistaken) belief that Trump—with help from his well-oiled media loop—will torpedo truth and undermine Rule of Law, which will immunize them from consequences.
It's hard for some people to wrap their minds around the fact the Trump-GOP wants this.
The warriors for Rule of Law are the investigative journalists. And Bezos, who took a blow for democracy.
Whether or not Trump had a direct hand in the AMI-Bezos debacle, this much is obvious:
AMI was doing Trump’s work.