TMZ Does The Impossible, Turns Justin Bieber Into A Mildly Sympathetic Character

As you may have heard, Justin Bieber has an N-word problem, as if he needed to pad his “World’s Worst Person” resume even further. TMZ recently released audio/video that featured Canada’s finest sh*tstain dropping N-bombs in the course of telling a racist joke and rumors are swirling that there’s more audio of Bieber dropping N-bombs coming. But this morning Gawker reported something that actually makes me feel a twinge of sympathy for Biebs: TMZ has been using the audio/video to blackmail him for years.

That TMZ had the video for years isn’t a secret. In its post on Sunday the gossip site acknowledged that it had possession of the video “4 years ago,” (the video was likely made in August 2010, while Bieber was filming the documentary Never Say Never) but “decided not to post it … in large part because he was 15 and immediately told his friends what he did was stupid.”

But according to multiple sources with knowledge of TMZ’s editorial operations, there was another, more pressing reason to keep the video secret: to hold it over Bieber and his team’s heads in exchange for appearances on TMZ’s media properties and cooperation with stories.

“TMZ has been sitting on this video for 3+ years,” one source, who worked with TMZ at the time the video came into the publication’s hands, told us, “and have been using it as essentially ransom so that Bieber and his team would cooperate with them and give them scoops. It was very close to being released initially, but his team was able to convince them not to by giving them access and compliance.” A TMZ spokesperson denied that the company agreed to suppress the tape in exchange for access, calling the allegation “absolutely not true.”

This is almost as bad as that terrible TV show TMZ airs that I find myself hate-watching once every six months or so, losing pieces of my soul each time along the way.