How much does awful celebrity gossip machine TMZ pay to get its hands on all those exclusives? A whole helluva lot more than a reasonable person might think. For example: OJ Simpson is on trial in Vegas right now for armed robbery of some sports collectibles. Clearly, OJ's time in the spotlight has passed. He's third rate. But here's how much a tape of the crime was worth:

The man who set up the hotel-room confrontation that led to armed robbery charges against O. J. Simpson testified Monday that he had received at least $210,000 from several news organizations, including ABC News, in exchange for interviews, photographs and parts of an audio recording he had secretly made of the events.

$150,000 of that is what TMZ paid him for "excerpts" of the audio recording. This, for a story that nobody really even cares about. And ABC News, ha! Playing in the muck, are you? They paid the man $15,000, which is a no-no for real news organizations. Here's how they justified it:

A spokesman for ABC News, Jeffrey Schneider, said the network never paid for interviews. What it paid Mr. Riccio for, Mr. Schneider said, were rights to broadcast parts of the audio recording on "Good Morning America" and to show several photos of Mr. Riccio and Mr. Simpson together on the day of the hotel-room meeting.

Bullshit semantics. ABC pays just like TMZ. They're just not as generous. [NYT]