Although the just-launched site TMZ-DC.com bears the name and logo of tabloid fixture TMZ, it actually appears to be the latest work of right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, according to the Daily Beast. Perusing the TMZ-DC.com metadata, the Daily Beast found links to domains bearing Burkman’s name and a replica site with the URL tmz-dc.burkmanassociates.com. A TMZ spokesperson confirms to Washingtonian that TMZ-DC is not affiliated with the original brand, adding that a cease and desist letter has been sent to the website.
The fake TMZ site’s launch was accompanied by a pamphleting of Capitol Hill and Georgetown with posters that offer $10,000 in exchange for info about a supposed love triangle involving members of Congress. This isn’t the first time Burkman has dreamed up steamy scenarios related to lawmakers. At a 2019 press conference in Burkman’s Arlington driveway, he and frequent collaborator Jacob Wohl made wild accusations about a then-presidential candidate. Burkman and Wohl have also been charged with voter intimidation and other crimes in Michigan in connection with robocalls (they deny any wrongdoing), and Burkman was in the news last year for an FBI raid on his home that turned out to be a hoax.
TMZ-DC seems like nothing more than another effort to drum up attention. The number listed on the posters goes directly to a voicemail inbox, and if you click “read more” on the site, you’ll be redirected to a “404 Not Found” error page. The TMZ-DC Twitter account , which is linked to on the website, has zero followers (but follows 13 people, including Barack Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, and the official POTUS account).
Notably, the real TMZ did try to expand its Washington coverage back in 2009. However, the gossip site never really picked up steam in the District. We have a feeling this new rip-off probably won’t get much traction, either.