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TMZ DC: Adventures in Political Flab?

The hot website specializes in exposing celebrity flab--sagging rear-ends, fallen faces, unedited rants, unexpurgated divorce files. Now that the site is planning a D.C. version of the product, the natural question is, Do we really have enough dirt and muck to support TMZ's "shocking new details" jones?

TMZ relies heavily on paparazzi pix, and while there is a healthy freelance photography scene in Washington, they're mostly not the sort who spend their hours scheming on how to gain access to a good view of a junior senator's backyard pool. But the bigger question here is, Do Washington's celebs do enough outrageous stuff to fill an all-salacious site, and even if they do, would anyone care?

Sure, you could pay some low-rent paparazzi to follow Marion Barry around and you'd eventually hit upon some web-worthy content, but let's be real--the man is 71 years old, and if he's the only name you can absolutely count on for SDRR content, maybe your business model needs a stronger foundation.

There's no doubt that Washington gossips love the stuff our pols produce--the gossip industry hereabouts has blossomed in recent years, from the Post's Reliable Source to the various Wonkette imitators and the boldface names columns in the several Hill-ish papers. But TMZ traffics in a lower rung of copy than, say, Vanity Fair, and it will take our collective imaginations to come up with a sufficiently meaty menu of material for them. They could cover drunken Hill aides partying in G-town, or the incestuous political bloggers scene at the cafes along 17th Street NW, or the young journos who still smoke the evil weed with their unreconstructed elders at bookish Friday night parties, or the pols who slyly get the D.C. school system to pay their private school tuition by using a fake District home address and hiring a lawyer who specializes in special education claims. But this is not exactly sexy stuff.

"Washington is where the term 'celebrity' includes former surgeons general, defense lawyers and Pat Buchanan," Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) told the LA Times. "TMZ is going to be bored out of its mind. The only thing keeping TMZ in D.C. for more than a week would be its lease."

Some TMZ staples just wouldn't translate to Washington: You could do a D.C. version of the obligatory celebs at the swimming pool shots, but they would be real ugly, perhaps uglier even than TMZ could handle. You could focus on the wonderfully deep reservoir of documents that this city holds, finding all manner of treasures in the FBI files and in the various courthouses, but thesmokinggun has very nicely cornered that market, and it seems rather too highbrow for TMZ (the site is named for the 30-mile celebrity zone around Los Angeles).

Ok, you're the editor of TMZ-Washington: Give me your story list for this week....

By Marc Fisher |  March 21, 2007; 7:06 AM ET
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Re TMZ, Marc wrote: "...the pols who slyly get the D.C. school system to pay their private school tuition by using a fake District home address and hiring a lawyer who specializes in special education claims. But this is not exactly sexy stuff."

Who in the world are these pols? Is this a story the Post has covered? I plead ignorance, but this is an outrage.

Posted by: Jack | March 21, 2007 8:09 AM

Interesting combination of posts Marc.

Yesterday you were praising the virtues of the press for telling the people what is happening around them by reporting who has a concealed weapons permit.

Today you lean the other way to discourage TMZ letting the people know what is happening around them in DC. Are you afraid some of your friends might show up on TMZDC?

Or are you worried YOUR name is going to show up on the web?

Posted by: SoMD | March 21, 2007 8:30 AM

He's worried that TMZ might publish pictures of Senator Hatch at the local swimming pool.

Posted by: wiredog | March 21, 2007 8:44 AM

Where was TMZ when Carl Rowan shot a kid in the butt? Now that's salacious DC history at its best.

Posted by: Louis The Rogue | March 21, 2007 9:22 AM

At best TMZ DC will rely heavily on subject-provided pics at semi-swanky events like Washington Life does. Wanna see your name in print? TMZ DC, where anyone can be a celebrity!

Posted by: mizbinkley | March 21, 2007 9:35 AM

So long as there are no salacious pictures from anyone from the McLaughlin Group.

Posted by: salacious pictures | March 21, 2007 9:37 AM

My odds on favorite for launch story on TMZDC - the DC madam's black book. She gave it to a "national media source." If that source isn't TMZ, I bet they are salivating over the prospect. I'm pretty sure that story would satisfy the SDRR factor and have many tongues wagging.

Posted by: esmerelda | March 21, 2007 9:42 AM

Truth is most Americans can barely identify Laura Bush without George W Bush in the picture. Lynne Cheney could go to Giant or CVS and not gain any attention until someone saw the limo and secret service agents. The only thing that made that congressman from California tabloid fodder was the murder of Sondra Levy and his affair with her. with that said, with the backstabbing in this City, TMZ has probably lined up a number of inside sntiches for the afterhours political world of DC.

Posted by: RobGreg | March 21, 2007 11:12 AM

The eighteen Day Records Gap.

Posted by: Buck Batard | March 21, 2007 11:16 AM

I have run into Eleanor Holmes Norton jogging around the Capitol building, and it ain*t a pretty sight. And most people would be shocked, not to say nauseated, by a full picture of Ted Kennedy. He*s a WHALE.

Posted by: gitarre | March 21, 2007 11:38 AM

Careful there gitarre, you named a couple dyed-in-the-wool liberals ... them thar's Marc's people you be pickin' on.

Posted by: SoMD | March 21, 2007 12:15 PM

Well, I rather see Eleanor running, and Ted's naked whaleness, compared to seeing the emails from the Republican congressman who was intensely seeking a boy toy.

Or how about the Republican, that totally denied he was gay except for when he's secret boy toy came forward.

Now that's juicy!!!!

Posted by: DC Guy | March 21, 2007 12:52 PM

Where was TMZ when Dr. Cecil Jacobsen was still practicing?

Posted by: Lindemann | March 21, 2007 2:35 PM

This site gives great information about the divorce. It gives more information related to divorce and having more links to this site.

Posted by: sun | March 21, 2007 2:48 PM

Cecil Jacobsen, Yuk!!!

Posted by: DC Guy | March 21, 2007 2:53 PM

The congressman with the secret boy toy was Rep. Barney Frank, (D) from MA. His boy toy was running a brothel out of "their" townhouse.

Posted by: Stick | March 21, 2007 3:28 PM

Yeah that's a good one, but at least Barney Frank didn't pretend with his wife and kids, can you imagine how their wives felt when it was made PUBLIC they were having affairs with men and then the one republican guy who was a big Christian type man, and turns out likes men.

It was never proven it was a brothel, that was added from a republican back lash, propaganda kinda thing.

Some may agree being gay is wrong, but i think its worse when you get married and have kids just for the sake of an image.

For a minute, think about the nights the republican gay guy, was smoking meth with his boy toy and came home and kissed his wife in the mouth, yuk.

If i voted, Barney would get my vote.

Posted by: DC Guy | March 21, 2007 3:57 PM

Don't get me wrong, it's all good gossip.

But, i would have paid a subscription or join a membership on line to see more of the graphic details on these guys who mis-lead their wives and kids.

Matter in fact i would interested to really find out how the wives and kids feel.

Posted by: DC Guy | March 21, 2007 3:59 PM

TMZ for the love of god, do not post any videos or pix Any Congresswomen in bathing suits or upskirts. The world does not need to see Nancy Pelosis rear end in a mini skirt or Thunder thighs Hillary Clinton exposing her mid riff.

Posted by: Thugg | March 21, 2007 5:05 PM

Hey SoMD, if TMZ came over there, what fodder would they find? A hoedown celebration every time someone discovers a new ear hair?

Posted by: FredCO | March 21, 2007 7:58 PM

if they assign a photog to borgen they'll have plenty of content.

Posted by: leana | March 21, 2007 10:21 PM

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