Van Lathan fired from TMZ after putting hand around Michael Babcock's throat
Page Six has learned that before Van Lathan was fired from TMZ, he put his hand around the throat of co-host Michael Babock.
On Monday, we reported that site veteran Lathan had been canned after telling Babcock - after shooting a segment together for "TMZ Live" - that there would be trouble between them if Babcock "ever embarrassed [Lathan] like that again."
We'd heard from sources that Lathan had put his hand around Babcock's throat but didn't publish the claim without evidence. But on Tuesday, pictures emerged clearly confirming that Lathan had gotten physical.
Insiders told us that Lathan - who shot to fame last year when he challenged Kanye West after the rapper said that slavery was "a choice" - wouldn't have been fired if he hadn't touched Babcock.
In the first of four frames available on an obscure Twitter feed, Lathan approaches Babcock from behind while Babcock sits in the "TMZ Live" host's chair, puts his hand on Babcock's neck, rests his arms on Babcock's shoulders and speaks into his former colleague's ear. In the second, Babcock - clearly shocked - turns to look at Lathan. In a third he follows Lathan out of the frame, and a fourth shows colleagues several rows of desks away turns to see what the commotion is about.
A source who was in the room tells us that Lathan was finished shooting and was way on the other side of the room before he decided to return to confront Babcock. "He walked all the way across the room, came from behind [Babock] and grabbed him," said the insider.
Meanwhile, we've learned more about the segment that led up to the Oct. 8 incident. We're told that the pair had been discussing the infamous shots of Ellen Degeneres talking to George W. Bush at a football game.
According to someone who's seen the tape, Lathan said something to the effect of, "I'm going to speak now," and Babcock replied with something to the effect of, "You're not telling me when I can talk and when I can't." Apparently Lathan was obviously upset during the segment.
Babcock, Lathan and reps for TMZ didn't get back to us.
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