Kim Kardashian’s origin story has, at this point, passed into legend: Before Ray J, before Kanye, before Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, she was the personal assistant to the original sex tape star-cum-reality-TV personality Paris Hilton. But how did she climb her way past her old boss? According to a dirt-filled new Buzzfeed story: By spilling tea on her to tabloids.
Several former [InTouch] employees confirmed that before Kim Kardashian’s sex tape with Ray J was leaked in 2007, Kim served as a source for In Touch stories, providing a steady stream of information on Paris Hilton.
Kim’s rep denies this, of course, but according to Petersen’s explanation of how tabloids are sourced, it’s not hard to believe that Kim had a direct line to InTouch. Here’s how your gossip sausage gets made, per Buzzfeed:
In Touch piqued that fascination by manufacturing elaborate, multipart, melodramatic narratives—the stuff of soap operas. Which made sense: The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Richard Spencer, came directly from Soap Opera Update. Several former employees remember Spencer laying out a four-act cover drama for what would happen between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the beginning of each month— a pregnancy, for example, followed by a breakup scare, a reconciliation, and then marriage rumors.
How do you make the soap opera sound legit? Find sources within the celebrity’s own circle. Petersen continues:
The beats of the drama may have been fictionalized, but it was easy to find sources— including rival publicists, other celebrities, former friends, estranged family—to support the claims. Still, according to Jo Piazza, who served as executive editor at In Touch from 2012 to 2014, “the majority of the stories were true.” “They were double-sourced,” she said. “It’s just that those sources were celebrities and publicists,” and then referred to as “a source close to the family” or “a friend.” It’s not that In Touch made things up; it’s that the publicists and family members and celebrities themselves did.
Sorry, Paris. After Kim—allegedly—gave up all that Hilton dirt, InTouch turned around and helped her become a star. When Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered in 2007, Kim and her sisters began appearing on cover after cover of InTouch, often giving “exclusive” interviews that nobody else wanted in the first place. Eight years later, it’s Kim Kardashian’s world, and Paris Hilton is just living in it.