The Atlantic magazine this month has a fascinating story about Westlake Village's Larry Garrison, a sort of middle man who brings tabloid stories to mainstream television news producers who want the dirt without having to get their hands dirty.
The magazine calls him “The News Merchant,” and notes that lascivious stories he's helped put together have aired on Dateline NBC, 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition and more. What exactly does he do? The Atlantic:
There is no single term that fully captures what Garrison does for a living, although it involves a lot of time spent cajoling people over the phone. He's sometimes called a fixer, a story broker, or–his preference–an independent television producer and consultant, but all the titles mean the same thing: Garrison gets paid to bring tabloid stories to TV news programs. Missing toddlers, murdered coeds, septuplets, serial killers–an endless parade of freaks and victims is marched through the studio sets of Dateline NBC, 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, and countless other shows, all to satisfy viewers' seemingly insatiable appetite for real-life tears and melodrama. Sometimes network bookers go out hunting for subjects themselves, armed with bouquets of flowers and boxes of tissues and the names of their star anchors (Diane Sawyer, Matt Lauer) as chits. In many cases, though, Garrison gets there first, locks up the rights to the person's story, and becomes an unavoidable middleman in whatever transactions follow.
So, does this relationship mean that legit television news operations are paying sources for stories — a no-no in journalism? It's complicated.
Garrison gets paid, and the Atlantic notes that he, of course, tries to keep the cash all to himself. Still …
The agent delivers the interview, and in return the network makes him a paid producer or consultant for that particular program; what he then does with the money–keep it or share it–is his own business.
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