There was a post here based on an Orange County Register newspaper story that quickly spread like fire online. But with the Kings staying in Sacramento, and other developments relating to this story, I’m going to change this to mainly focus on the media.
Here is what happened:
The Orange County Register ran a sensational story that made it appear an attorney for the Sacramento Kings owners showed up at the personal residence of one of the paper’s reporters trying to persuade her to release an audio recording of the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach making comments about the Maloofs.
This was in the midst of the Maloofs deciding whether to stay in Sacramento for the next year or move the team to Anaheim. Kings fan went nuts over the implication that the Maloofs had decided to move the team and were seeking evidence against the league for a potential anti-trust lawsuit in the event the NBA did not approve the move.
Turns out the OC Register story was not quite accurate.
Hearst would have been proud.
Apparently, this was a pleasant, convenient, pre-arranged meeting. No attorney just “showed up” at a reporter’s personal home. There was no attempt to “persuade” the reporter to turn over the tape.
There is more to this story in the comments at the bottom, so make sure you read those. Everyone makes mistakes.
But the OC report was originally no mistake – a personal story about an attorney for the Maloofs that was not just a newspaper story, but came with a bold, boxed, second attention-grabbing headline about the Maloofs sending an attorney to the home of a reporter to “persuade” her to give up a tape.
Lessons to be Learned:
1. Ask an employer or company for documents, tapes, videos, etc., Don’t go behind their back trying to get that from an employee. Certainly don’t “show up” at their personal home. Go to their place of work. Whatever advantage that could be gained from this – always weigh and consider ramifications if your actions are discovered.
2. No matter how friendly the reporter, there is a trust issue. This is a lesson I have learned over the past 20 years in dealing with newspaper, radio, and television reporters. Your goal is not their goal. Your story is not their story. I do not recommend ignoring media requests, but be prepared, have your talking points, and stick to them. Hard. Because if you stray from your talking points you can be sure that is what will be reported, to your embarrassment. At the same time, be cooperative. That can be a difficult balancing act, but is something that must be done.
3. Nothing is “off the record.” Even if a reporter asks for a comment “off the record”, it is extremely dangerous to assume that will occur.
4. If you’re going to use fake names and try to communicate anonymously, be computer savvy or don’t bother. “Patricia” below is apparently a fake name. Unfortunately for this person, unbeknownst to them an early message to the blog showed they were from the law firm. At a minimum, their computer IP address gave away their law firm name.