Home Celebrity TMZ, Radar–National Enquirer: War, Nervous Breakdowns Over Whitney Houston

TMZ and the National Enquirer-Radar Online are having a war and mutual nervous breakdowns over Whitney Houston, her buddy Raffles van Exel, and what if anything the final police reports will show this week. It’s alleged by my sources that both tabloid outfits bought pictures from van Exel–TMZ of Whitney’s hotel room and a picture they were lied to about; the Enquirer bought the picture of Houston in her coffin.

Since I wrote all this, the two tabs have freaked out. Early in this story, TMZ insisted that no cocaine was found in Houston’s room. They had no named sources. Now they say there was cocaine, and they have no named sources. I’m told that once the folks at TMZ read in my story at Forbes.com that they’d been hoodwinked on a picture that was supposed to be Whitney’s dead body on a gurney (they didn’t know it, but it was Bobbi Kristina, covered up in a white sheet), they flipped. Apparently they were offered the coffin picture,too, but either couldn’t meet the price or were angry about having been lied to.

There is no honor among thieves. Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas. Pick an adage. The tabs are doing back flips trying to save their own “faces,” and stall until a tox report finally comes in. TMZ this morning is wild. They simply declare van Exel no longer a suspect in something that’s never been confirmed or denied by anyone with a name. They are desperate. On the comments page below this morning’s story, all sorts of people are writing in contray reports. It’s funny enough to watch the comments roll in.

But it’s not funny about what’s happened here. Since Whitney died, her sister in law, brother and daughter have given an interview to Oprah. Her mother has given an odd interview to local Channel 9 in New Jersey that’s running tomorrow night. Cissy Houston says she doesn’t blame herself for Whitney’s death. Pat Houston says “the writing was on the wall” but told Oprah that it wasn’t drugs that killed Houston. Then the coroner came back and said Whitney was a chronic drug abuser. Is everyone just in denial? Are they dense?

But back to TMZ: you simply cannot declare something true or untrue with unnamed sources because you feel like it. There’s more to come about Whitney, van Exel, and the whole story. Read my posts both here and on Forbes.com. None of this is over, not by a long shot.


Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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