Despite what officials and rumors say, the TMZ founder said he had been in talks with the Bryant’s before publishing the story on Kobe’s passing.
Since the news broke of Kobe Bryant’s passing, many people have been criticizing the site TMZ for breaking the story. Some reports suggested that TMZ broke the news before Vanessa and the Bryant family even found out about Kobe’s passing from officials, but according to Harvey Levin that ain’t true.
During an interview with LA radio station KNX on Wednesday, the TMZ founder said “Kobe’s people” gave them the okay to run with the story. He said he had been in talks with them for about an hour before they published the story.
“We dealt with Kobe’s people for an hour before we published the story and we were told very clearly that [Vanessa] had been notified,” Levin told KNX’s In-Depth on Wednesday.
“I got the tip initially from law enforcement,” Levin explained. “Then we talked to Kobe’s people and we were dealing with them for an hour before we published the story and they said, ‘Go for it.’ At a point we were all trying to confirm it and we confirmed it, but they all knew and they said, ‘Go for it’ and they said she knew.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva added fuel to the fire on Sunday when he publicly bashed TMZ for possibly letting out the information ahead of the families knowing. “It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ.” He said it’s “just wholly inappropriate” that TMZ reveals the identity of victims.
While Levin might’ve spoken with people from Kobe’s camp, it appears he ran the story before the other families could find out from officials about their loved ones. When asked if it was fair to the other families involved to go with the story, Levin conceded, “And that is a fair point. That’s a fair point.”