Justin Bieber’s iPhone and speculation about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department being able to access his password after the police raid at his Calabasas, California, home during which it was seized, is the latest morsel to fall from the Egg-Gate trough.
But before we get to it, a word.
Without question, TMZ underscored their existing stripes as a breaking news outlet then they reported the massive tip-off that was the Bieber-raid and news of note resulted. However, of late, the outlet is stretching that goodwill – and accuracy – in some of their recent reports.
First: The iPhone
Citing law enforcement sources, the website claims police may need another search warrant to access Bieber’s iphone. TMZ alleges he “scoffed” when asked for his password during the raid and “immediately shut them [the texts or phone] down.”
The Sheriff’s Department previously said police want to see texts around the time of the egg-throwing incident at his neighbor, Jeffrey Schwartz’s, house – of which Bieber is accused – to find out if texts either talking, bragging, or referencing the egging were received or sent by the singer.
However, in a January 16 report, when referring to the moment Justin’s phone was seized, TMZ stated police “took it right out of his hot little hands,” clearly suggesting there would have been no time to switch the device from the state (on or off) that it was already in.
In addition, Lt. David Thompson, lead investigator of the felony vandalism and assault case, told the New York Daily News,
“The only person in that house who wasn’t African American was Justin. Everyone was cooperative and dignified, seated around the kitchen table while I answered their questions.”
ABC News reported the same.
Therefore TMZ’s claim that Bieber “scoffed” at deputies when he was allegedly asked for his password is not accurate or supported by Thompson’s recollection. In the post-search news conference the detective said Bieber was not asked anything during the raid beyond routine questions because he didn’t have an attorney with him. That includes a password.
So why over-egg it and paint Bieber as belligerent when that wasn’t the case?
In fact, the reason why the Sheriff’s Department may need a warrant for the phone is a legal one and has absolutely nothing to do with Bieber’s real or fictional reactions during the raid.
As per the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: On Friday, January 17, Supreme Court justices agreed to decide when searching a cellphone requires a warrant.
That decision is still pending. It’s possible the Sheriff’s department is in the process of or will shortly be returning to a judge to obtain what’s commonly known as a “piggyback warrant,” to add Bieber’s phone and contents to the felony search warrant if it isn’t already covered.
WSJ noted, Sgt. Ernie Masson at the Sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills station, confirmed deputies had a search warrant for Bieber’s home, but he couldn’t say whether it specifically covered the singer’s phone.
Under the Fourth Amendment warrants are “particularly” required to describe what is to be searched and “the persons or things to be seized.” Courts sometimes exclude evidence that falls outside the scope of a warrant.
As to other dramatic bits in TMZ’s report about machines locating time-frames, at present we can’t verify whether that’s a creative add or not.
Second: The Non-Drugs Den
Bieber’s friend, the rapper Xavier ‘Lil Za’ Smith, was arrested during the raid for felony drug possession allegedly for MDMA, (a form of ecstasy) and Xanax (results announce pending). According to police, Lil Za allegedly admitted the drugs were his.
On January 20, TMZ claimed raid police found jars full of weed, bongs, “Sizzurp” usage residue, four or five empty codeine bottles, and a designated smoking room with hookah pipes at Bieber’s Calabasas house.
Qualifiers were limits of the search warrant, which was specific to seizing video surveillance equipment and egging-related evidence. Lt. Thompson said police didn’t go through drawers and cupboards, while The News said a law enforcement source told them at least one bong was seen but wasn’t part of the warrant checklist,
“I didn’t see any of it,” Thompson said of TMZ’s alleged drug stash, “The house was orderly. It didn’t look like a drug pad. I did[n’t] see any empty codeine bottles. I didn’t smell weed.”
TMZ’s report of Bieber’s home as a quasi-crack house with police moving through a sea of Styrofoam cups, general filth, spilling-over weed jars, and an equipped smoking room, while people dashed to flush alleged drugs presents as exaggerated and unsubstantiated.
According to reports all seven detained house occupants – including Justin – were watched from the moment police entered his home.
Third: Stirring the Sizzurp
The Globe and Mail notes that – along with gossip outlets Page Six and Radar Online –“TMZ is leading the charge in unfounded claims that the Canadian pop star is ‘using drugs with alarming regularity’ to the point where his handlers are now urging him to check into a rehab facility.”
It’s alleged the teen singer is a fan of Actavis Prometh – an $800 a pint high-end version of the street cocktail “Sizzurp”- also known as “Lean,” “Purple Drank” and other names.
Citing several unnamed sources and also a notable “Double Cup” image tagged on Bieber’s skateboarding half-pipe at his home, the meme that Bieber is an [alleged] addict who can allegedly drink as much as eight-12 ounces of the codeine-promethazine mix per day — is now threaded throughout the Internet and elsewhere.
But while outlets are, of course, at liberty to publish legitimate news and speculation, pushing a presumptive agenda is another matter.
Fourth: Sometimes Social Media is just social media
We’re all tracking Bieber’s social media accounts. But not everyone leaped, as TMZ did in a January 21 report using Justin’s rendition of French Montana’s “Ain’t Worried Bout Nothing” in an Instagram video from his recent break in Aspen, Colorado, to a conclusion that:
“[Bieber] is laughing at everyone who is worried about his drug abuse… because he thinks what he’s doing is simply the mark of a 19-year-old… and besides, it’s fun. People close to Justin tell us… he’s laughing at the stories TMZ has posted about his drug use… in particular, what has become an out-of-control sizzurp problem.
Justin’s feeling is that he’s young with lots of time on his hands — as he puts it, ‘I’m on break… in fact… over the weekend, Bieber posted a video on Instagram on an ice rink with the hashtag ‘worried bout nothing.'”
On the contrary, sources tell us Bieber has recently cleaned house in his circle yet again, and far from laughing at recent stories in the press finds them “Upsetting.”
While this piece has highlighted TMZ, the outlet is by no means alone in the gorging that’s accelerated since the egging and the raid.
As noted in our report on Bieber’s speculated drug use; if he does have an drug addiction problem, dismembering a 19-year-old in a 24/7 news cycle that twists words here, inserts a self-serving adjective there — or as Radar Online — is currently doing, completely ignoring reps denials to run a bogus item, is a long-term scenario that may increase possibilities of an extreme outcome.
It’s a different kind of vandalism; but it’s still vandalism.
(Photo: Instagram, captioned “I’m in Cuba I love Cubans.”)