TMZ was publicly scolded by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Sunday, for reporting about the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others, before the victim’s families could be notified.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, also known as GiGi, were en route to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy, when their Sikorsky s-76 helicopter crashed. All nine people aboard were killed.
TMZ was the first to report the tragic accident. Though, had the Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami had his way, the gossip site would have waited longer. Murakami tweeted that he was “saddened” by the victims families learning of the accident before the police had a chance to tell the families.
I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported the Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media Breaks my heart
— Undersheriff Tim Murakami (@LASDMurakami) January 26, 2020
Matthew Belloni, editorial director for the Hollywood Reporter, told CNN that TMZ has very good sources with the “kinds of people” who are in the know when it comes to the deaths of celebrities in Los Angeles.
“If TMZ reports that a celebrity has died in Los Angeles County, it is almost always correct,” Belloni told CNN via the Hill. “For whatever reason, and you can read into this, their accuracy rate in Los Angeles is very, very good.”
TMZ gained notoriety in the entertainment and news world in 2009, when they became the first to break the story that pop icon Michael Jackson had died. Later that same year, the gossip site was also the first to report Whitney Houston’s death. And in April of 2016, TMZ broke the news that Prince had died from an accidental drug overdose.
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and three daughters — Natalia, Bianca, and newborn Capri.