When WFTV general assignment reporter Daralene Jones arrived at a news conference held by the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, she presumably thought she was armed with some damaging information: a transcript of a late night phone conversation between the team’s CEO, who had been drinking at the time, and star player Dwight Howard.
The only problem was that the transcript was actually a complete fabrication, concocted by a writer at Deadspin.
When it came time for reporters to ask questions at the news conference, which was called to announce the resignation of the team’s CEO Bob Vander Weide, Jones pressed him on allegations that he had recently drunk dialed Howard.
According to Orlando Pinstriped Post, here’s what went down…
“Did you drunk dial Dwight Howard?” Jones asked.
No I didn’t,” Vander Weide said. “And let me just make this statement once on that phone call.”
Jones interjected: “You called him, but you weren’t drunk?”
“I’m gonna finish my statement, please,” said Vander Weide.
“Social event. We play paddle up in the Midwest. I had a couple glasses of wine. I had received texts and phone calls from Dwight and thought it prudent still to return the call. I was not drunk. I had had two, maybe three glasses of wine over three hours.”
Not ceding any ground, Jones pressed on…
“Do you recall saying ‘Me and Otis and Stan [Van Gundy], we don’t want you to go anywhere. We suck without you. Everyone knows. We’ve got nothing else. Orlando is a terrible place, and we’ve got the Amway thing, but who the ["f"] cares?’ Do you recall saying any of that?” Jones asked.
“I will not talk specifics of conversations with our players,” Vander Weide said.
“The people of Orlando spent a lot of money on this new venue,” the reporter went on. “They would probably like to know if you’re out there trashing the city. Can you answer that question?”
“I can easily answer that,” Vander Weide said, his voice becoming sharp. “For 21 years, I have tried to put this community first. And for the remaining years of my life, Orlando will be a home for me. And I would never trash Orlando.”
Of course, Vander Weide wouldn’t be able to recall saying “Orlando is a terrible place” because that line came from Deadspin.
Following the news conference, the blogger who wrote the fake transcript posted video of the exchange on Deadspin under the headline “Orlando Reporter Asks Resigning Magic CEO If He Really Said That Thing I Made Up.”
Jones’s line of questioning did not make WFTV’s newscasts last night. The station reported only briefly on Vander Weide’s resignation, saying that the longtime Magic CEO confirmed that he had been drinking when he called Howard.