Reports on Kings strain credibility

The Kings are not leaving Sacramento.

That’s the clear impression I got from reading Marcos Breton’s Sunday column in the Bee. Breton laments how much time he wasted Thursday trying to dispel rumors racing through the Internet that the Kings were planning a move to Virginia Beach, Va.

“No matter how vociferously I said – and tweeted – that the Kings weren’t moving, people wanted to talk about how they were,” Breton writes in his 30-inch column. He presents as seeming fact that the “Kings weren’t moving” and then denounces would-be journalists for indulging in baseless rumors and speculation.   

  Breton bemoans the current state of the media in which “you have a story about nothing becoming the biggest story of the day.” In the old days, he says, “standards and fact checking and analysis based on knowledge was (sic) still the universal standard in the business.”

In revving up his disdain for bloggers, citizen journalists and the like, the mainstream media columnist writes: “Many of us in the business hate days like Thursday. I foolishly spent the better part of that day as a half-baked Internet hall monitor – preaching standards to people who don’t care about them.”

My, my, my. Was Breton aiming his venom at the social media, or was it aimed at his own newspaper? Despite Breton’s  certainty that the Kings were not leaving, the Bee on Friday saw fit to put a 40-inch story, along with a map and graphic, on its front page. The main headline said “Kings silent on report to move,” followed by the subhead, “Team is eyeing Virginia Beach, paper says.”

The news story pointed out that the Virginia Beach City Council plans to discuss an arena proposal tomorrow evening pushed by Comcast-Spectacor and Live Nation. Kings’ officials declined to comment, and Comcast said no team has been identified as a possible tenant for a new arena. Those were the basic facts. The story noted that a lot of rumors have swirled around the Kings since the collapse of a plan to build an arena in downtown Sacramento and gave critics about eight inches of space to dump on the Maloofs, the part-owners of the Kings.

The Bee’s news story, by its content, length and position on the front page, treated seriously the rumors that the Kings might be exploring a move toVirginia Beach. This was not a story about nonsense running amok on the Internet. Today’s Virginia Pilot adds fuel to the story line.

So what’s going on at my old newspaper? Did Breton share the certainty he had on Thursday with his editors? Did he reveal any sources he might have on the subject? Did editors hear his “fact” and reject it? Was he indulging in the know-it-all-columnist game?

Breton says he hates days when he has to dispel baseless rumors. As a newspaper reader,  I hate days when I read a column that undercuts a front-page story in the same newspaper. Either the column or the news story had no business being in a newspaper that values its credibility.

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12 Responses to Reports on Kings strain credibility

  1. Jason says:

    I really enjoyed Marcos Breton’s most recent column about wanting to be a Republican except for the whole anti-immigrant thing. I’m glad he acknowledged his devotion to elitist economics- wealth redistribution from cops and teachers to professional sports franchises and developers.

  2. Jason says:

    It’s safe to say the Kings are not leaving at this point. But their future seems unsettled-we’ll likely be hearing about different rumors for the forseeable future- and we’ll see some interesting responses to those.

  3. Ron Wenig says:

    Right on the nose, Paul. It’s sad that Marcos is the headlining columnist for the Bee. His simplistic, holier-than-thou, “think” pieces are always about him rather than the story.

    • Paul Clegg says:

      Ron, It’s interesting that the Bee had two articles today on the Virginia Beach story despite Breton’s insistence that the Kings aren’t leaving.

  4. Jason says:

    It’s just another column in which Mr. Breton is venting about the Maloofs under the guise of being nostalgic for old fashioned journalism. I re-read this column and the media outlets spreading the story aren’t Internet bloggers nor scared Sacramento Kings fans who follow Mr. Breton on Twitter and the media outlets contacting him are mainstream outfits- the Washington Post and Comcast (who owns a little group of TV stations known as NBC) so it’s not modern day Internet journalism. His real intent here is to showcase his frustration with the Maloofs for fielding bad teams and for scuttling two arena deals- even though the paper trail shows that both arena deals were outlines with no details. And Marcos would validate his frustration with examples of the Maloofs dubious business acumen. Marcos Breton’s columns on this issue serve two purposes- venting his frustrations and putting out the Team/KJ Think Big side of the story- “We came together as a community in a way that we never came together before to keep the Kings in Sacramento for at least a generation while undertaking America’s largest infill project and the incompetent Maloofs shattered the dreams of a hopeful city.” While the real story is that a massive set of subsidies aimed at giving developers entree into the railyards fell through and that Sacramento needs an economic development strategy that doesn’t rely on professional sports- who has bled billions from state and local governments while providing little in return.

  5. I have to both disagree with you partially on this one. As you know, a columnist has the freedom of opinion and can differ with news stories. Marcos’ bashing of Internet rumors, in my opinion, was on the money. We all know that many blogs, online comments and posts in chat rooms are rife with lies, innuendo and faulty reasoning – every single day. And they are very damaging, in my opinion, because they often blur the distinction between real journalism and a bunch of amateurs. Many people just don’t know the difference, and Marcos is right to point out the lack of standards.

    But what I did find a little confusing, and where I do agree with you, was that the story itself seemed a lot more plausible than Marcos was conceding. My impression was that the website was a business journal of some kind, with some real journalistic standards. The Bee’s A1 story would tend to back this up – that the editors considered the story at least viable. So while Marcos was correct in his criticism of web-based rumors and people stating as fact that the Kings were leaving, I think he was wrong in saying that “the Kings aren’t moving.” Indeed, I fear this story may really have something to it. I don’t want the Kings to leave, and I guess we’ll find out.

    • Paul Clegg says:

      What bothered me, Mark, was that Breton appeared to be stating as fact that the Kings were not leaving. I didn’t read that as his opinion. If he was giving his opinion, he couched it as irresponsibly as those he condemns.

  6. Kevin says:

    Great article, as usual.

    Breton lost me when he said “[a] website I had never heard of reported Thursday….” I guess in his world if he hasn’t heard of the website it must be fake. Bad analysis right from the start.

    • Janis Edwards says:

      not to defend Breton, whose columns I don’t read, but that remark is a tip that the blog may not be a particularly credible source. What’s wrong with that?…unless you hate Breton anyway.

      • Kevin says:

        That would be understandable if the website was a blog, but it wasn’t. The story was first reported in the Hampton Roads Business Journal (and later picked up by numerous other outlets). Apparently the HRBJ is similar to the Sacramento Business Journal, which most would consider a credible source.

  7. Jack H says:

    Marcos Breton lost all credibility long ago.

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