Pressure is mounting for TMZ to remove video footage it claims was shot at the scene of a fatal car accident in which the comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured last weekend. Predictably, the gossip website is ignoring the criticism.
Louis C.K. and Judd Apatow are among those pleading with TMZ to take down the video, which the website boasts as an exclusive and claims was “shot moments after the fatal accident and before EMTs arrived on scene.” The comedian James McNair, aka Uncle Jimmie Mack, was killed in the accident, which took place early Saturday morning on the New Jersey Turnpike. The video footage appears to show Ardie Fuqua, another comedian who was critically injured, being pulled unconscious from the wreckage.
On Tuesday, Fuqua’s daughter posted to Instagram, calling TMZ “hurtful and distasteful,” and asking her followers for help to petition for the video’s removal.
C.K., never one to shy away from a public debate, pleaded with TMZ via Twitter late Wednesday night, tweeting, “Take it down TMZ. Now. Please.” A few hours later, Apatow tweeted at TMZ’s founder, Harvey Levin, asking him to “please take down the accident video.” The celebrity tweets riled up other Twitter users, who were continuing to put pressure on the site as of Thursday morning, with some saying it was time to boycott TMZ’s advertisers:
â€” Anne Dixon-Wise (@AnneDixonWise) June 12, 2014
TMZ did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the backlash. While the site often willfully ignores outside criticism, it has yielded to advertiser boycotts in the past. Early last year, the site came under enormous criticism for posting a graphic video in which a young man, 19-year-old Andre Lowe, is seen being gunned down outside of a Hollywood nightclub. Critics said the video, which featured no celebrities, provided no apparent public good outside of the shock value of seeing someone killed on screen. After a petition on Change.org launched by Lowe’s uncle collected more than 200,000 signatures, major companies such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) reportedly suspended their ad campaigns. TMZ later edited the graphic footage, according to the Los Angeles Times, removing the image of Lowe lying in the street.
On Wednesday, C.K. followed up his request by asking his 3.49 million followers not to watch the video. His plea has been retweeted more than 3,000 times.