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Last year, Page Six reported that TMZ paid two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for surveillance footage of Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, attacking Jay Z in an elevator at the Standard, in New York. In 2012, the site published a video showing four marines in Afghanistan urinating on dead insurgents, which prompted a criminal investigation and disciplinary action against the marines.
(According to a former TMZ employee knowledgeable about the deal, the price was closer to five thousand dollars.) The Society of Professional Journalists condemns the practice of paying sources, saying that it “threatens to corrupt journalism.” Levin was unapologetic. Did such posts, Kurtz asked, signal an intent to change TMZ’s reputation as “a raunchy tabloid operation”?
“It’s not an accident the guy with a camera is waiting at the Delta check-in counter at 8 ,” a former TMZ employee wrote, anonymously, on Defamer, a Hollywood site owned by Gawker.
TMZ resembles an intelligence agency as much as a news organization, and it has turned its domain, Los Angeles, into a city of stool pigeons.
the early-morning hours of February 15, 2014, Ray Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, stepped into an elevator at the Revel hotel and casino, in Atlantic City.
Palmer and Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, were arguing as the doors slid shut.
” Kurtz asked.“It’s so funny to me that people ask that question,” Levin replied. I mean, that’s what you’re to do.” Indeed, the site has built a deep network of sources, including entertainment lawyers, reality-television stars, adult-film brokers, and court officials, allowing Levin to knock down the walls that guard celebrity life.
(He declined repeated requests for an interview.) TMZ has paid at least one mole inside B. S., a limousine service, to provide lists of celebrity customers, their planned routes, and the license-plate numbers of their vehicles. source—“a Hispanic gentleman”—at a gas station in Van Nuys, handing over an envelope filled with cash, and receiving in return a client list.
The former security supervisor told me that casino officials also identified which computer had been used to review the footage. The league suspended Rice for two games, but by early September he was preparing to return to play. Rice was cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the N. For the TV appearance, he was wearing a tight black T-shirt, which showed off his physique—he works out every weekday before dawn, prior to going to the office.(On the day the Fox interview aired, TMZ’s home page featured an “exclusive” about Iggy Azalea, the Australian rapper, who was threatening to sue an adult-film company over the release of a sex tape.) Levin’s face lit up.“We’ve been around for nine years, and if you look at the stories that we’ve broken they are stories that literally every newscast in America has put on the air,” he said.But Loretta Pickus, the former general counsel at the casino, told me that it could not be determined with certainty which employee had recorded the footage with a phone. Then, on September 8th, TMZ published a second surveillance video from the Revel. Several of Levin’s colleagues told me that he is determined to maintain his youth.When the video was posted on TMZ, Rice’s attorney issued a statement, warning viewers not to make judgments until “all of the facts” emerged, adding, “Neither Ray nor myself will try this case in the media.” Three months later, Rice and Palmer held a press conference. This one, bought for almost ninety thousand dollars, revealed what occurred inside the elevator: after the doors shut, Rice punched Palmer on the left side of her head. Gillian Sheldon, TMZ’s first publicist, who later became a supervising producer, said, “Once, Sumner Redstone”—the former executive chairman of Viacom, who is ninety-two—“told him that one of the secrets of his longevity was that he ate blueberries every day.
In October, 2014, TMZ received an e-mail that, under the subject heading “Drake at Stadium Club in D. Please call me for price.” Fifty-nine minutes after a producer forwarded the tip to colleagues, TMZ posted a clip showing the rapper accidentally dropping thousands of dollars outside a Washington strip club.