The fallout from TMZ firing Van Lathan has continued even as the celebrity news outlet’s former employee has repeatedly downplayed it. But Lathan’s recent interview with Jemele Hill on her “Unbothered” podcast cast him in a light that hadn’t been seen following his highly publicized termination that was reported in the context of him being the physical aggressor toward a white, conservative colleague.
The interview, which Hill released on Tuesday, lasts for nearly an hour and a half. But she got right down to the nitty gritty as soon as it began. And even though Lathan made it clear he could not talk about the situation that led up to him being fired and said he was not allowed to talk about his former employer at all, his answers to Hill’s pointed line of questioning still revealed plenty.
One of the first things Lathan said he wanted to make clear was that he’s not “the angry, violent Black guy” much of the media coverage has made him out to be. Multiple reports said Lathan attacked his white co-worker Michael Babcock by choking him. Lathan suggested that was a mischaracterization.
“That’s the only thing that’s a little bit bothersome for me,” he told Hill, explaining that the portrayal of him as someone who is “a dangerous or mean, mad, angry guy” is just wrong.
He said that his former co-workers threw him a going away party after he was fired and Babcock was among those in attendance. In fact, Lathan said he and Babcock are actually good friends.
“Mike was my closest friend in the office, by far – the closest friend I ever had at TMZ – and he remains a close friend of mine,” he told Hill.
Following his firing, Lathan said the outpouring of support for him has been overwhelming. From gaining 10,000 new followers on Instagram to friends even offering to CashApp him some money — he turned that down — Lathan said he feels the love being sent his way.
“I really, really have been floored,” he said while Lathan credited that love to the way he said he’s always put “the black community first.”
However, while he said he wasn’t worried about what he will do for work next, there were some other negative consequences that he said he’s had to deal with.
“This has been one of the most stressful weeks of my life,” he told Hill in reference to his health. Lathan said he planned to visit a cardiologist. “My heart is beating funny,” he said. “I’m not sleeping. I’ve lost five pounds.”
Lathan, who said his “Red Pill” podcast would continue, also teased an upcoming book and said he was focusing on “being multi-facteted.”
He also admitted that if there was a silver lining to all of the attention generated by his firing, it was the fact that he’s become more resolute than ever in his purpose.
“It reaffirms to be what I want to do with the rest of my career,” Lathan told Hill before continuing: “which is to be an inspiring, positive and unifying voice.”