Early this afternoon, the world was briefly confronted with the horror (made all the more horrible by the Drudge Report) that gossip gulag TMZ had applied for a drone license, somehow intent on tracking celebrities with the same fury with which the President hunts terrorists in Yemen. Thankfully, TMZ has denied the rumor in the most TMZ way possible. Here's how all that happened over the last couple of days.
On Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported a (pretty common) domestic drone application trend story that contained one small, horrifying little morsel of information (emphasis ours):
The Federal Aviation Administration has been flooded with applications from police departments, universities, private corporations and even the celebrity gossip site TMZ, all seeking to use drones that range from devices the size of a hummingbird to full-size aircraft like those used by the U.S. military to target al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Like we said: Horrifying, right? Halloween was so last month. The rest of the story is about the potential economic and legislative effects of domestic drone use, and TMZ doesn't come up again until the very end of the story, when the FAA says that TMZ "does not have a permit." And, to add to your already growing fear, the Chronicle added a "yet," to the end of the FAA's statement, as if it could happen in the future, that their application could be passed. This idea that TMZ might get a drone could become a reality.
It's OK if you are or were scared. Even Matt Drudge was terrified:
That was his headline at midday Tuesday, but, thankfully, paragon of honesty TMZ says it was all a lie. TMZ is not, as they say, "Keeping Up With the Dronseses":
TMZ is NOT getting in the DRONE business ... we don't have a drone ... we don't want a drone ... we never applied for a drone ... despite a bogus report to the contrary.
Truth is ... while drones are, in fact, awesome ... it just ain't true.
The fact that TMZ thinks drones are awesome is enough to keep some people awake at night, sure, but for now we're safe. TMZ did not file an application for domestic drone use. Phew.
Update: Someone at the San Francisco Chronicle has some explaining to do. The FAA confirmed to Politico's Dylan Byers that TMZ has never applied for the right to operate a drone aircraft.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.