The site - owned by Time Warner, CNN’s parent company - has started accosting members of Congress, including Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock, as they go about their work in Washington.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Schock said of his first encounter with TMZ. “I was on my way to the floor for a vote, I’m talking to a constituent literally on my cell phone and there’s some guy with a handycam in street clothes walking next to me. And, so, I didn’t know what to expect.”
The 27-year-old freshman congressman, whose congressional district includes Peoria, Illinois, told CNN’s Howard Kurtz how his paparazzi encounter played in his Midwestern city.
Watch: Schock dishes on TMZ
“I was actually surprised by how many text messages, e-mails, phone calls I got from stay-at-home mom’s that were watching the [TMZ] show,” Schock said on State of the Union on Sunday. “People that log onto their Web site I guess regularly and check out the news on TMZ. … People who watch TMZ or different mediums don’t expect to see their congressman on such a show. They’re used to seeing the Britney Spears or the movie star.”
Schock is taking the attention from the celebrity site in stride and does not think it undermines the seriousness of his work on Capitol Hill.
“Some of these alternative forms [of media] are important because it gets nontraditional voters engaged,” he said. “If they’re learning about me on TMZ or some of these other blogs and YouTube videos, then they’re recognizing my face and my name so that when I’m out on CNN or the other networks talking about issues, they’re going to maybe stop . . . and listen to what I have to say.”
The young Republican was recently voted the hottest freshman in the current Congress by readers of the Huffington Post, a liberal Web site, and he has already received a fair amount of personal attention from President Obama - though it was not enough to convince Shock to support Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package