It is no great secret that Ailene Voisin writes with a good amount of creative license. I don't mean that to say that she writes lies. She frequently adds color to her stories, much of which drives me nuts. She shapes stories in ways that most sportswriters do not, and perhaps sportswriters should not. Her biases, however, are bare: she thinks Paul Westphal is doing a poor job, she thinks Geoff Petrie has done a poor job, she thinks Tyreke Evans is not a point guard, she thinks the Kings should listen to her ideas more often. She doesn't exactly hide her positions. It's all pretty naked, at least if you've been reading her for any length of time.
That's the problem with this whole Carl Landry mess. Voisin colored a story about an aggravated player in such a way that it bolsters her biases. She thinks the team plays too much one-on-one basketball, and that Westphal has done a poor job. She shaped her story on Landry to emphasize his quotes on selfish play and the coach's culpability. It's craft. I mean that sincerely: it's craft.
It was, unfortunately, too much craft for Landry and Westphal, who responded vociferously against Voisin's column on Thursday. I implore you to read Ham's write-up and watch the Landry video at Cowbell Kingdom; it's required material for this discussion, and to understand Landry as a person, I think.
In the end, Voisin screwed this up.
It's worth noting that Landry hasn't said he was misquoted, just that lines were taken out of context. We'll never know how out of context the quotes are or aren't; a reporter's tapes, like his notebook, have sanctity, and to call on a journalist to release the raw footage is out of order. That a choice a reporter and her editors make, not the watching public. We have no right to that. None.
Voisin screwed up because she used her craft -- her well-honed, time-worn craft -- to turn a story about Landry's frustration into a story about Landry's frustration with Westphal and his teammates. Doing this with Landry, who had already been quoted on the subject in far less explosive context earlier in the week, who has incredible respect from his employers and teammates, who is completely eloquent -- that's the mistake. Voisin does this all the time. It usually breezes through, with Kings officials seething quietly. But by using Landry in this quest to undermine the Kings' power structure, she stepped on a landmine. Landry was willing to stand up against it, and Westphal was willing to stand up for Landry, and savages like Grant Napear and, well, myself will have no problem pointing out that Voisin is, by and large, not to be trusted in written word.
She let the flame crawl too far down the match, and she got burned. It's not as if she doesn't deserve the fall-out. She deserves it much more frequently, every time she pulls something like this. But this is the episode that hit the wrong nerve at the wrong time, and her local credibility (in whatever state it had been) is taking the hit.
But the world still turns, and the Kings still suck.