I do not hate Perez Hilton. But I hate what Perez Hilton has done to journalism. He routinely reports rumors as if they are real stories without bothering to fact-check them. Consequently, because of his tremendous reach, inaccurate gossip becomes gospel.
Since Perez doesn't expend time or effort verifying stories, he is able to quickly break "news" while real reporters are slowly toiling away calling sources, getting the facts, and seeking official statements. And thanks to Perez's rapid reporting style, the blogger has been able to snare a series of scoops, including the death of Fidel Castro.
As you may recall, two years ago Perez posted several stories announcing that the Cuban leader had passed away. He even took on the venerable Wall Street Journal, claiming he was right and the newspaper was wrong. Ironically, it will be Perez who will be able to gloat one day that he was "the first to break" the news of Fidel Castro's death - albeit a few years prematurely.
But when Perez isn't getting stories wrong, he's offering his insightful commentary, which he does by defacing photos of celebrities with drawings of cocaine specks under their noses and genitals on their faces.
As a veteran celebrity journalist, I prefer facts over phalluses. That's why I created GossipCop.com, which daily patrols hundreds of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and TV shows in an effort to separate all the fact from fiction in entertainment journalism.
This morning alone GossipCop.com noted how Perez filed two false reports within minutes. The first inaccurate story had the singer John Mayer secretly dating "The Hills" star Kristin Cavallari for the past two years. It must have been such a secret because neither Mayer nor Cavallari even knew about. The second story had Brad Pitt buying his kids an $82,000 gerbil run that reportedly features mazes, tunnels, and seesaws, among other amenities. GossipCop.com smelled a rat - sorry for mixing rodents - when we first read that bogus story a few days ago in the U.K.'s Sun.
Essentially, this morning Perez Hilton not only posted two (so far) fabricated rumors, but for a guy who doesn't waste his precious time fact checking, he was also late - and not "late," as in the "the late Fidel Castro."
Granted, a lot of people dismiss celebrity reporting as that murky area of journalism where there's latitude for innuendo and additional space for hyperbole. But whether it's celebrity reporting or political reporting, it's still reporting, and stories need to be reported out through fact checking.
It's time for Perez Hilton to be held accountable, because ultimately - whether it's sports, politics or entertainment - the public wants and deserves accuracy over outrageousness.
Michael Lewittes recently created GossipCop.com, which separates the fact from the fiction in blogs, in print, and on television.