Holy cow this is a weird story. If my guess turns out to be true, I want a journalism medal for my political prophetic powers.
Nevada’s biggest paper is the Las Vegas Review Journal. Till now, it has been an independent paper with a strong record of aggressively reporting stories about the state’s gambling industry, the biggest player by far in Nevada’s economy. That may all be about to change.
Today, a reporter for the paper wrote a querulous article asking who the hell just bought his company and who’s his new boss? Nobody appears to have a clue. Well I do: Sheldon Adelson. And I’ll tell you my reasons:
- He can afford $140 million without batting an eye.
- He’s willing to spend hundreds of millions in presidential elections on behalf of the GOP.
- Nevada is a major early primary state and he’d love to influence the GOP nominee and general election as well
- It advances his own business agenda to own the state’s biggest paper
- He already owns Israel’s largest daily, Israel HaYom, which he bought for a similar purpose, to support the career of Bibi Netanyahu. It loses $40-million/year which he subsidizes. Newspapers for him are not commercial ventures, they’re political projects.
- He is very secretive about deals & issues like this would dearly want his involvement to remain secret as long as possible.
Here’s what Jay Rosen had to say on the matter:
“One of the first thoughts I had was: Nevada is an early primary state. The Review-Journal is the largest newspaper in the state. Was it sold to a player in that event, or people who want to be players?,” asked media critic and New York University professor Jay Rosen.
The timing of this story couldn’t be more fortuitous as the GOP presidential candidates gather for a national debate at Adelson’s flagship Las Vegas hotel, the Sands. One competitor stands out from all the rest in his relationship with Adelson, Marco Rubio. Of one thing you can be sure: Sheldon Adelson wants Rubio to be president so bad he can taste it. And if buying a newspaper is a down-payment to achieve that goal, it’s small change as far as he’s concerned.
Adelson is especially sensitive to how he’s portrayed in the press. In fact, he’s sued or threatened to sue a number of Israeli TV stations which aired profiles he viewed as defamatory. One such incident resulted in an on-air apology to Adelson followed by the resignations of the news chief, mortified by his company’s capitulation to Adelson’s bullying. Having total control of the state’s leading newspaper would mean news perfectly tailored to Adelson’s taste.
Purchase of the Review Journal, if Adelson did so, would be a naked media power grab. It would be yet another vanity project meant to pimp Adelson’s brand (the Las Vegas Sands) and his political ambitions to elect a far-right wing Republican president.
CAVEAT: Of course, the big caveat is that I have no firm evidence to confirm my hunch. Yet.