TMZ.com reaped plenty of publicity when word leaked last month that the Tinseltown Web site was setting up a new site devoted to the behind-the-scenes foibles of the nation's capital. But the effort is sputtering and may never get off the ground. (Washington Post)
I don't know why anyone thought a D.C. version of a Hollywood gossip site would be a good idea in the first place, so this doesn't really come as a shock. There just isn't enough fodder here to sustain it.
I mean, let's check out what's in today's Reliable Source: some local chick is on The Bachelor. The head of PR for Bloomberg thwarted a limit on carry on bags. Yet another sighting of Sheryl Crow and Laurie David. (And seriously, Sheryl, one square of toilet paper? That's something the Taliban would suggest.) Finally, that guy who isn't Bob Woodward is writing a Hillary bio.
Over at Yeas & Nays, a congresswoman and her chief of staff are expecting babies at the same time, Mrs. Fenty knows how to dress, and a fashion designer I've never heard of digs Ugly Betty.
Finally, Shenanigans spends an awful lot of time discussing some kid who was at the Correspondents Dinner, who has a show on the Disney Channel.
And bear in mind, these are just small parts of larger operations; The Washington Post, the Examiner, and The Politico, respectively. So it's not surprising that it was determined that there isn't enough quality D.C. gossip to sustain an entire website.
The article also suggests another reason:
One person approached about employment, who asked not to be identified because the conversations were confidential, said TMZ executives do not understand that people in Washington are far less likely than those in L.A. to sell gossip items for $100 or so.
This may be true, but it has nothing to do with people in Washington needing money any less than those in L.A. After all, for your average Hill staffer, $100 is roughly half of their annual salary. It's just that people in Washington are usually smart enough to know that if you have dirt on someone, you're better off using it to blackmail them for career advancement than sell it for a pittance to some website.
Still, if TMZ does decide to go forward with a D.C. site, forget about those $100 fees. Instead, put that money towards bar tabs. Take even the lowest level Hill staffer out, pour some vodka into him, and you're guaranteed to come away with something you can use.
Hell, think of it as a public service. God only knows how many perverts like Mark Foley are still in office, or how many Watergate-level scandals have gone unreported, because the media around here is pursuing "traditional journalism" instead of out getting staffers drunk. Why, if the Post spent as much on alcohol as they do redesigning their website every six months, they'd bring down the Bush administration inside of a week.