In the media-led chaos that ensued after Kobe Bryant’s death was reported, the police officers chastised TMZ, the outlet who broke the story, for publishing the report before the had a chance to notify the people most deeply affected by the tragedy.
It caused people to question, for perhaps the millionth time, TMZ ’s ethics and their reporting practices.
Recently, Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ, defended himself against claims of unethical journalism.
Levin said that before he published the story, he had the “OK” from “Kobe’s people” to share the news of his death in the helicopter crash.
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Law enforcement claimed they didn’t notify the victims’ families. But Harvey said reps for Bryant gave him permission.
“We dealt with Kobe’s people…and we were told very clearly that she had been notified,” Levin said referencing Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow.
When asked if the families of the other seven victims had been notified, Levin couldn’t say the same thing. “That is a fair point.”
Levin claimed that he learned of Kobe’s crash from a longtime law enforcement source. He then called Kobe’s reps to confirm.
“We were dealing with them for an hour before we published the story and they said, ‘Go for it,’” he said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva blasted the outlet because he couldn’t confirm the identities of everyone on board the helicopter.
“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate.”
When asked to comment about Villanueva’s comments, Levin said, “We confirmed it…and they said ‘Go for it’ and they said she knew. So I’m not sure what he’s saying on that. We’re not law enforcement and he’s not a journalist. We do different things,” Levin said.
It still seems that he doesn’t get it. While Bryant was certainly the most well-known person on that plane, he wasn’t the only one. And the other victims’ families deserved the same level of respect of learning their loved ones died through law enforcement and not on the internet or television.