Back in 2014, TMZ was able to get their hands on two surveillance videos that featured Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer inside of an elevator in an Atlantic City, N.J. hotel and then dragging her limp body out of it. The videos pretty much ended Rice’s NFL career and forced the NFL to take a much closer look at how it was policing its players with regards to domestic violence. Without both videos, you could argue that Rice likely would have served the two-game suspension that the NFL handed him after the first video was released and then continued playing professional football until his career ended. Those TMZ videos changed the game, though, and forced the NFL to spring into action. Question is: How was TMZ able to obtain them?
The New Yorker just published a long feature on TMZ and their practices and, at the very beginning of it, they detail how TMZ forked over a small fortune to get access to the Ray Rice videos. The first video, which featured Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator, cost them about $15,000. But the second one, which featured the punch itself, ran them somewhere in the range of $90,000, putting the total cost at more than $100,000. That’s obviously a lot of money, and according to The New Yorker piece, it’s significantly more money than they’ve paid for many other big stories (the Jay Z/Solange elevator video, for example, reportedly fetched somewhere in the range of $5,000, despite reports about how it had been purchased for $250,000). But according to The New Yorker, the surveillance workers at the Revel Atlantic City acted quickly after seeing the Rice video for the first time and had their sights set on cashing in on it:
According to a former security supervisor at the Revel, nearly eighteen hundred cameras streamed video to a pair of monitoring rooms on the mezzanine floor. After guards responded to the incident in the lobby, several surveillance officers gathered and wondered aloud if a tape of Rice and Palmer could be sold to TMZ—the Web site that, since its inception, in 2005, has taken a merciless approach to celebrity news.
At around 4:30 A.M., one of the surveillance officers, sitting at a monitoring-room computer, reviewed footage from a camera that faced the elevator and, using a cell phone, surreptitiously recorded the screen. The officer then called TMZ.
It’s not really surprisingly that TMZ eventually paid as much as they did for the videos. They generated a ridiculous amount of traffic for the TMZ site and put the brand in the news for weeks. But it is kind of crazy to hear about how the Ray Rice transaction played out. You can read about it here.
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[via The New Yorker]