Thesmokinggun.com's aim is often uncomfortably true
1 hour, 20 minutes ago
Peter Johnson USA TODAY
Thesmokinggun.com, a Web site that often makes headlines by disclosing court records, has done it again -- this time posting a 1993 deposition by a 13-year-old boy who said that singer Michael Jackson molested him.
The revelation comes a decade after Jackson reportedly made a $20 million payoff to the boy and just days after the singer acknowledged that he shares his bedroom with kids.
Finding the deposition was all in a day's work for reporter Andrew Goldberg, 31, who unearths documents for the Web site.
Goldberg won't say how he landed this one. He began checking with sources after controversy erupted over Jackson's remarks to British interviewer Martin Bashir. (Living With Michael Jackson will air three times on VH1 beginning Saturday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.)
''We thought (the deposition) had been around,'' Goldberg said. It hadn't, and now its graphic contents are making headlines.
The Web site, founded in 1997, is devoted to tracking down paper trails via court documents, the Freedom of Information Act and police files. Court TV bought the site in 2000.
''They do what shoe-leather reporters used to do more of: dig up incriminating documents,'' Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz says. ''Their stories are rock-solid because they rely on black-and-white records, not unnamed sources. They've become an important database for the American press.''
Many scoops have been aimed at reality TV. In 2000, the Web site disclosed that the fiancee of Rick Rockwell of Fox's Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire had a restraining order against him in 1991. Recently, thesmokinggun.com revealed that a contestant on Fox's Joe Millionaire made fetish bondage flicks.
The Rockwell scoop ''was supposed to be the death knell of reality TV,'' site co-founder William Bastone says. ''Thank God it wasn't. We've become the clearinghouse for all bad things about reality TV. It's the gift that keeps on giving.''