Why TMZ Should Not Publish 911 Calls

911 TMZFacebook founder Mark Zuckerberg once said that of all the things money can buy, anonymity isn’t one of them. Though that might seem like a small price to pay for the advantages of an unlimited bank account and lavish lifestyle, there’s a monster lurking beneath the surface that is often not discussed. With fame comes special treatment, and that special treatment might cost your life.

In the case of Prince, reports have surfaced that the legendary musician suffered an overdose, and despite needing more treatment, he left the hospital early because he couldn’t get a private room. And when Kanye West was once asked what he has had to give up for fame, he said his mother, who tragically died after plastic surgery that I can only presume he paid for. He would not elaborate further, but it’s been revealed that his mother, Donda West, left the hospital early despite advice from the medical staff. Would the staff have pushed harder had she not been the son of Kanye? Who knows. What about Steve Jobs? The Apple giant opted for an herbal remedy instead of immediately removing a cancerous tumor from his pancreas, and though there are no reports of special treatment, I can’t help but wonder how hard he was advised against that decision, given his superstar status. And who can forget the doctor that snapped a photo of Joan Rivers during the surgery that ended her life? Lastly, there’s Michael Jackson, who managed to find a doctor to administer the drug that killed him. Dubbed “V.I.P Syndrome,’ doctors are often advised about the possibility of skewed judgment, but their famous patients are also to blame. They become desensitized to cutting corners, even when their life is at stake.

The desire for anonymity and the acceptance of special treatment manifests in dangerous ways, and though we can’t babysit celebrities, we can admonish the tabloids that facilitate this issue. TMZ is a major source of my entertainment news, mostly because I’m a lawyer, and I’m aware that Harvey Levin is a lawyer too, and he’s adept at the risks of defamation. I therefore know he would not publish lies, and most of his information is fed through reliable sources. Having said that, I’m also aware that they publish 911 calls, and I know this is a life-threatening decision. If a celebrity is in danger, they might think twice about calling for help when they know it will end up on the internet. Furthermore, their team might think twice, because they’re there to protect a star’s image, and the 911 call would expose very private information. Finally, addiction is a beast, and AA is anonymous for a reason. Each and every time a call is published, it chips away at the safe haven of calling the people paid to protect us. I understand TMZ and many other outlets have a job to do. But there’s a line in the sand. And this crosses it.

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