Grey’s Anatomy actress Ellen Pompeo and fans of Kobe Bryant are demanding TMZ be punished for its coverage of the NBA legend’s death.
Bryant’s fans have started a Change.org petition urging Fox — which airs the TMZ television show — to part ways with the celebrity gossip program.
“Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a horrific helicopter crash, and TMZ LEAKED the news before the authorities were even able to notify the family. That means that Vanessa Bryant found out about the death of her husband and child through TMZ, tweets, or comments,” the petition says. “This is beyond not ok, and its time that Fox and Warner take away their platform. Sign the petition to get TMZ taken down once and for all!”
As of Wednesday evening, it had more than 430,000 signatures.
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Pompeo ripped TMZ founder Harvey Levin in a series of tweets Tuesday and shared the petition with her 1.7 million followers.
“I wonder why police departments give @HarveyLevinTMZ all this sensitive info ? I wonder why @HarveyLevinTMZ puts out photos of women who have been attacked or assaulted. …Who were victims ? Exploiting women who have been abused… why is this guy still in business at all?” Pompeo tweeted.
In a second tweet, she said: “So many peoples lives will never be the same after this tragedy… but you got your scoop. Hope you sleep well at night @HarveyLevinTMZ I’m sure you do.”
Unlike mainstream news organizations such as the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press, TMZ is known to pay for tips.
In a news conference Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva blasted the gossip website for its reporting on Sunday’s helicopter crash, which killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learned about it from TMZ,” Villanueva said. “That is just wholly inappropriate.”
Levin defended his website’s tactics this week in an interview on all-news Los Angeles radio station KNX 1070.
“We dealt with Kobe’s people for an hour before we published this story and we were told very clearly that she [Vanessa Bryant] had been notified,” he said.