TMZ employees who were upset over their boss Harvey Levin‘s cozy relationship with Donald Trump now have reason to rejoice. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a source with inside knowledge at TMZ says that the former buddies stopped talking to each other months ago over the president’s repeated attempts to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
In an article profiling Levin’s political ambitions, sources speaking to Bloomberg spoke of an unofficial policy regarding negative coverage of Trump, especially during the 2016 election. Levin’s site repeatedly avoided capitalizing on low hanging fruit regarding stories of Trump’s alleged inappropriate behavior towards women due to the symbiotic relationship Levin enjoyed with the then candidate. At times, the site even ran interference for Trump while he was by trying to smear women accusing him of sexual misconduct. That unofficial policy seemed to have been lifted earlier this year with the site publishing more stories critical of Trump. Earlier this month, Levin even tweeted “He’s got to go!!” from his personal Twitter account after the president took a shot at LeBron James and Don Lemon’s intelligence following the basketball player’s interview with CNN.
“Leading up to the election there were many phone calls between Harvey and Trump. Harvey was in close contact with the Trump team frequently,” a former TMZ top executive told The Daily Beast in a story from May. “There was a point Harvey would make jokes in the newsroom that he would be press secretary or in the Cabinet but we got the impression he was only half joking.”
Levin’s previous allegiances to Trump seem to have less to do with ideology and more to do with his ambitions of becoming a political kingmaker. TMZ’s parent company Time Warner reportedly squashed Levin’s attempt to start a gossip outlet based in D.C. in 2007. As Bloomberg points out, Levin, an openly gay man based in Southern California, supports LGBT rights, animal cruelty prevention, and “various liberal causes” which doesn’t fit with Trump MAGA agenda or Vice President Pence’s aversion to gay people. However, political affiliation doesn’t really matter as long as the candidate can help grow the TMZ brand, as Trump did when he granted Levin a flattering sit-down interview in Trump Tower shortly after the election aired Fox News, which led to the TMZ boss selling the network the celebrity interview series Objectified. Levin’s blatant opportunism raises the question of whether something else besides transgender military service figured into his falling out with the president.
Levin reportedly isn’t discouraged by getting shut out of the Trump administration and already set his sights on the next celebrity he can groom into seeking higher office, his longtime friend and Calabasas matriarch Kris Jenner.