There's a leak in TMZ.com chief Harvey Levin's ship of gossip. The Time Warner-owned gossip site paid $62,500 to get a police photo of singer Rihanna's facial injuries, TheMediaBuffet.com claims, citing a TMZ insider.
The release of the photo, taken in the course of a police investigation into Rihanna's alleged battering at the hands of boyfriend and fellow R&B star Chris Brown, set off a media-ethics firestorm and an internal LAPD investigation.
TMZ, like the National Enquirer, is known for engaging in checkbook journalism, a controversial practice where publications pay sources for information. Levin's site paid $165,000 for a tape of O.J. Simpson — a figure that TheMediaBuffet.com says was leaked by the same TMZ insider.
Let's be honest: The TMZ leaker is the only hero of this piece. The attack on Rihanna was horrific. But knowing the price of the leaked photo? In an age where everyone is demanding more and more transparency, the fact that we have arrived at a market price on Rihanna's tragic injuries tells us more than we may want to know about ourselves.