Amid months of coverage surrounding R. Kelly, a handful of exclusive videos published to TMZ have seemingly countered accusations against him of grooming, abuse, and other predatory behavior. Now, high-profile celebrities and other Twitter users are wondering aloud about TMZ’s coverage of Kelly and his alleged victims.
— TMZ (@TMZ) January 8, 2019
Fueling the speculation, TMZ posted a video of three young women who appeared in the explosive docuseries Surviving R. Kelly at one of his concerts. The headline of the post is “R. KELLY ALLEGED SEX SLAVES AT 2016 CONCERT … Free Will or Stockholm Syndrome??” This post, among others, has led people to question the relationship between TMZ and Kelly.
“They are just shills for R. Kelly and that’s stick,” comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted this week.
Why do I go after TMZ? Because of “stories” like this. They are just shills for R Kelly and that’s sick. They posted this yesterday just as R Kelly is seeking to discredit the survivors. As @dreamhampton asked, how does TMZ keep getting these R Kelly exclusives? pic.twitter.com/9Ubfk8TBtE
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 8, 2019
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) January 8, 2019
What is TMZ’s financial relationship with R Kelly https://t.co/XaCTYGgBDj
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) January 9, 2019
The women’s parents are accusing Kelly of brainwashing the girls and keeping them in a “sex-like cult.” One of them, Dominique Gardner, was reunited with her mother after escaping the accused predator. Viewers learned from the docuseries that she later returned to Kelly after just three days of being away but eventually went back to live with her mother.
In May, a video of Joycelyn Savage along with Gardner was posted under the headline, “R. Kelly Alleged Sex Slave Joycelyn Savage Vacations without R. Kelly.”
In another TMZ video posted in May, Savage and Kelly can be seen shopping in a mall, which was headlined, “R. Kelly Seen Shopping with ‘Brainwashed Sex Slave’ Joycelyn Savage.”
In what was perhaps the most impactful “exclusive” video, obtained by TMZ in July 2017, Savage can be seen responding to claims made in a BuzzFeed News article, which alleges that Kelly is holding women hostage against their will.
One of the Twitter users who believes Kelly is benefitting from TMZ’s coverage is the producer of the docuseries, Dream Hampton.
“You produced clips showing her shopping as evidence she was ‘free,'” Hampton tweeted this week. “Who do you work for?”
I would like to know what kind of relationship @TMZ has with R. Kelly & his mgmt team. You produced the video of Joycelyn Savage where she's being off camera directed by his team, you produced clips showing her shopping as evidence she was "free". Who do you work for?
— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) January 7, 2019
Even if TMZ is advocating for Kelly, it looks like his luck may be running out. As Complex reported this week, Kelly is being investigated for possible criminal charges in Georgia.
We’ve reached out to TMZ.