‘TMZ’ Claims They Had Permission To Release Early Info On Kobe Bryant’s Death, After Criticism

The tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others is one of the biggest stories to break in recent memory. TMZ, one of the first outlets to break the story, has come under fire for not following proper channels and contacting next of kin before going public with the information.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva had harsh words for the publication during a press conference on Sunday. Now TMZ’s founder, Harvey Levin, is defending the choice to publish the story and claims they had received permission.

The crash took place around 9:45 a.m. and less than two hours later, TMZ posted a story on it. Appearing for an interview on In Depth on Los Angeles radio station KNX, Levin outlined how the information came in and the channels his team went through before publishing.

He claims that they initially learned about the crash from law enforcement. At which time, they reached out to members of Bryant’s family, and after communicating with them, they were given permission to “go for it” and publish the story.

“We dealt with Kobe’s people for an hour before we published the story and we were told very clearly that [Vanessa Bryant] had been notified,” Levin told KNX.

Levin also says he spoke to “one of Kobe’s people” afterward, and they believed information was being leaked. Originally ABC had published a report that all of Bryant’s children were aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash. The TMZ mogul then says the source told him the leak came from the sheriff’s department.

No victims were identified during Villanueva’s initial press conference, and he called it “entirely inappropriate” to release any identities before the next of kin had been notified. The law enforcement officer also called out TMZ.

“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” the county sheriff said.

Levin and his staff felt comfortable releasing information after speaking to Bryant’s camp, but he concedes this does not take into account the seven other lives which were lost in the accident. KNX interviewers asked if it was fine to release the information before contacting the other families.

“That’s a fair point,” Levin responded.

The Inquisitr recently reported that the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner released the cause of death and identities of all nine victims of the helicopter crash.

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