TMZ staffer who called out Kanye: ‘I was conflicted and I was weirded out’
Van Lathan says he felt responsible to challenge West's erratic behavior as he went on with it on live television
Complex caught up with Lathan to dig a little into the controversy and gather his thoughts on the confrontation that has now made Lathan an unlikely hero on social media.
Lathan who calls himself a Kanye fan, said he never even thought he would get a word in edgewise when he heard the rap star was coming to the TMZ studio.
“I was conflicted and I was weirded out. I didn’t know if we were going to be able to talk with him, engage with him. I wasn’t sure what the nature of his appearance was going to be, how long it was going to be, I didn’t know any of that stuff, and I didn’t know what I was going to say if I got the opportunity to talk at all. But when I did have the opportunity, it was easy because it was a direct rebuttal of something he said.”
What Lathan basically said is that West’s points were misguided and corrosive to the African American culture, given his influence and platform.
When Complex asked Lathan how he was able to keep his composure and make such a lucid response to West, he said:
“We do that every day here. Every day there’s something different that we go back and forth about at TMZ, and shout-out to my brother Charlamagne the God who always tells me the way to make a point is to stay calm when everybody else is in their moment. Even when my voice is raised, I try to be measured and focused.”
Complex asked him why he confronted West. He responded:
“The misinformation that’s coming out his mouth can actually affect people and people need to have the opportunity to hear both sides of things. And if he’s going to sit up there on a pulpit—he was up, raised above the rest of us sitting on the TMZ Live stage talking—it wasn’t my job to destroy Kanye West or make a viral moment. It was to make sure what people heard doesn’t resonate with us all. The point was to make sure the opposite method of thinking was represented and we do that every day here.”
West admitted that he’s been prescribed medicine for some mental health issues but said on TMZ that he’s not taking them like he should.
Lathan said while he doesn’t know what West is going through, he does know he’s going about it all wrong to get his points through.
“I think he’s sincerely trying to get something across, I think he’s going about it a wrong way, and I think literally what he’s saying is wrong.”
So now that Lathan has become a viral star who inspires others, his feelings have changed about West.
“I feel sad that I lost a hero,” he said.