TMZ faces backlash after placing “Earth” on celebrity death-watch
LOS ANGELES -- On Monday, TMZ's Harvey Levin directed his staff to place Earth on "Death Watch," where the planet joins Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, and Rob Kardashian on a long list of celebrities that the tabloids deem to be in mortal peril.
Immediately, the backlash was fearsome, especially from climate scientists. Commentators called TMZ's eagerness to cover Earth's demise "ghoulish," with even gossip mongers like Perez Hilton agreeing that TMZ's putting Earth on death watch "was in incredibly poor taste."
On TMZ Live on Tuesday, Levin defended his editorial decision, insisting that Earth has been "in bad health for years. If Earth doesn't change its ways, it's going to die. This is the mother of celebrity deaths - it could be bigger than Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Montieth's deaths combined!"
Levin's co-host, Charles Latibeaudiere, pushed back, saying that while Earth is famous, its death "is never going to generate as much interest as Michael Jackson's."
In an unlikely turn of events, the New York Times' luminous obituary writer Margalit Fox came to Levin's defense on Twitter, saying that she's kept a pre-written obituary for Earth on file since 2000. "Of course, I haven't felt the need to update it all that often since President Hillary Rodham Clinton signed the Paris Accords. These days, Earth seems to be living a lot less dangerously."
Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor who specializes in climate diplomacy, said the Clinton Administration's hard stance against global warming has been hugely encouraging, and earth is no longer doomed to warm by more than two degrees Celsius. "I think I underestimated the American public's ability to come together, delay financial gratification, and make the right science-based decisions on behalf of our planet through the informed debate, elections, and the democratic process. We're actually really good at it. Thank goodness I was wrong!"