Police scold TMZ after outlet was first to report death of Kobe Bryant https://t.co/2fDUypezaU— Patrick White (@PatWhite70) January 27, 2020
TMZ was first to report the crash before any other outlet
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva heavily criticized TMZ for reporting the deaths before families could be notified
"It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one ... perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate."
Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami:
"I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported ... 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."
TMZ also was first to report the deaths of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince.
Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter:
"When it comes to high-profile people, they have an 'in' with the kinds of people who know this information. If TMZ reports that a celebrity has died in Los Angeles County, it is almost always correct. For whatever reason, and you can read into this, their accuracy rate in Los Angeles is very, very good."