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Story here: https://www.npr.org/2018/12/12/675961765/tribune-tronc-and-beyond-a-slur-a-secret-payout-and-a-looming-sale

In summary, after being fired from the LAT, Davan Maharaj threatened to sue the owner Tronc for wrongful termination, and then played part of a damaging recording to a mediator. He then received a significant payout.

So, assuming Maharaj didn't explicitly threaten to release the recording unless he received X amount of money(e.g. suppose he just said "My boss was so awful to work, just listen to this recording!"), would it have been possible to charge Maharaj with extortion just for disclosing that he had the recording? Could it be considered an implied threat to just to show off the recording in the manner he did?

I'm not asking whether Tronc or a DA would want to file charges(or whether the case would be winnable), just whether they could. On that note, wouldn't it be impossible for Tronc to suppress the contents of the recording if there was a criminal trial?

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No

Extortion (specifically blackmail in this case) requires making the explicit threat to release damaging information in return for something from the victim.

Having the information and releasing the information is not extortion without the threat.

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