TMZ: People know we broke the Michael Jackson story

How mainstream media dealt with a tabloid site's scoop

TMZ reported pop singer Michael Jackson’s death at 2:44 p.m., barely 15 minutes after the fact. CNN waited until hearing the news from the coroner, at 4:25 p.m., and only then reported the death, uneasy about citing TMZ, which many view as a salacious source of gossip, not news. It’s an odd conclusion, notes the LA Times, which reported Jackson’s death at 2:51 p.m. “The irony is that CNN is, like TMZ, owned by Time Warner. But Fox News and MSNBC also struggled with the sourcing issue,” write Scott Collins and Greg Braxton. Harvey Levin, a lawyer and the managing editor of TMZ, isn’t surprised mainstream news organizations wouldn’t cite–or even credit–his outlet. “‘That’s typical,’ Levin said during a phone interview when asked about rivals’ hesitation to credit the site. ‘No matter what they say, people know we broke the story. That’s how competitors handle it. There’s no issue about our credibility.'” Levin goes on to tell the LA Times: “We were getting calls from everyone under the sun, established news operations, asking, ‘Are you sure?’ That’s such an odd question. We would not have published it if it were not true.”

Los Angeles Times

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