The cost of doing business is pretty high over at TMZ. The company reportedly paid more than $100,000 for hotel surveillance videos of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancée, and now wife, Janay Palmer Rice.
Rice’s career hasn’t been the same since the world saw footage of him attacking Janay, the mother of his daughter. The love birds had gotten into a Valentine’s Day argument that turned physical, with Janay spitting at the former NFL player before he knocked her out cold.
The footage goes on to show Rice dragging her body out the elevator while she remains unconscious. He has since publicly apologized, and the couple tied the knot a month after the fight.
Reports The New Yorker:
According to a former security supervisor at the Revel, nearly eighteen hundred cameras streamed video to a pair of monitoring rooms on the mezzanine floor. After guards responded to the incident in the lobby, several surveillance officers gathered and wondered aloud if a tape of Rice and Palmer could be sold to TMZ—the Web site that, since its inception, in 2005, has taken a merciless approach to celebrity news.
At around 4:30 a.m., one of the surveillance officers, sitting at a monitoring-room computer, reviewed footage from a camera that faced the elevator and, using a cell phone, surreptitiously recorded the screen. The officer then called TMZ.
Many tipsters ask to be paid, and the site often complies. In October, 2014, TMZ received an e-mail that, under the subject heading “Drake at Stadium Club in D.C.,” announced, “I have the original footage. 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. (In a message to a TMZ staff member, the source asked to be paid five thousand dollars.)
The New Yorker’s TMZ exposé details the company’s willingness to pay sources, a move seen as unethical in the journalism world. Per the report, TMZ has paid spies all over the place, giving them access to otherwise confidential celebrity information.
Former TMZ producer Russ Weakland detailed how he personally coaxed tipsters into spilling stories. “I’d have to talk people off cliffs,” he said. “I’d tell them, ‘We’re not going to reveal our sources, because we want you to be a source for us again. We want you to trust us.’ ”
TMZ is responsible for braking major news scandals such as Mel Gibson’s drunk driving arrest to Chris Brown beating Rihanna, and Donald Sterling’s racists rant.