Van Lathan is one of the most popular personalities on TMZ‘s TV show. However, he recently got fired and now there are reports it was due to a physical altercation sparked by a debate over Ellen Degeneres and former President George W. Bush being cozied up at a football game earlier this month.
Page Six reported that Lathan and his now-former co-worker Michael Babcock got into a political argument.
“We’d heard from sources that Lathan had put his hand around Babcock’s throat but didn’t publish the claim without evidence. But on Tuesday, pictures emerged clearly confirming that Lathan had gotten physical,” Page Six wrote Tuesday evening. The confrontation was reportedly documented in a series of still shot photos tweeted out earlier this month.
The outlet claimed that after Lathan was finished shooting, he “walked all the way across the room, came from behind [Babcock] and grabbed him.”
Allegedly, during the segment that didn’t air, Lathan said something to the effect of, “I’m going to speak now.” Babcock reportedly replied with something like, “You’re not telling me when I can talk and when I can’t.”
Again, this conflict was reportedly over Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush.
An insider reportedly defended Lathan on Tuesday by saying “in the site’s high-pressure newsroom, staffers are often pitted against each other for the sake of making good TV.” The insider added, “Van’s not mean-spirited. Anything that happened is a product of that environment.” Sources were reportedly “stunned” that he was fired.
Page Six reported that they reached out to Lathan for comment and he did not respond. The site reported that Michael Babcock hung up on when called.
Lathan wrote on Twitter yesterday, “I’m okay. Promise you guys. Seriously.”
There were initial reports that Babcock was a conservative, which wouldn’t be a shocker.
The creator of TMZ, Harvey Levin, has long been accused of being a Trump supporter. Back in July, The Daily Beast reported the two are close friends, “More than a dozen former and current TMZ employees described the site’s pro-Trump transformation during the election under Levin, which they say destroyed newsroom morale and led to the departure of several key staffers.”
One staffer allegedly said about Levin, “He was excited at the prospect of Trump becoming president. He wanted Trump to win because he wanted to know someone in the White House.”