Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Owners Told Reporters to Monitor Judges

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Adelson sees Macau ‘at or near’ bottom of gambling downturn.

Hard-hit: The MGM Macau casino resort. The company that sold the Las Vegas Review-Journal to billionaire casino mogul and GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson is defending the transaction and slamming the media.Billionaire Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelsonsaid he will support the party’s eventual nominee, indicating in a news conference in Macau that he has not yet made up his mind on when he will make his own decision on whom to back.

It made some sense to the national news media that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would be the shadowy, now-unmasked new owner of Nevada’s largest newspaper.The deal captured the attention of the media and political worlds after it was revealed a week ago that the paper was sold for a second time this year to an unidentified buyer at a markup. Macau’s casino industry has been on a downward spiral since mid-2014 as China’s anti-corruption campaign keeps high rollers at bay and a slowing Chinese economy hurts mass-market gambling.

Mike Reed is chief executive officer of New Media Investment Group’s subsidiary company Gatehouse Media, which will continue to run Nevada’s largest newspaper. The Silver State is key in the presidential nominating process and one of a handful of states that are seen as winnable by either party in November, and Adelson is a billionaire for whom a $140 million purchase is mere change under the couch cushions. He said Gatehouse didn’t disclose the buyer due to a confidentiality agreement and rejected the notion that the paper’s integrity had been challenged.

For those of us who have worked for the Review-Journal or lived in and covered Las Vegas—I’m a veteran of both—it took more time to digest because, upon closer examination, it accomplishes so little for him. The R-J has always been staunch conservative and already generally agrees with almost everything Adelson believes: Obama is bad for America, unions are destructive, and the U.S. needs to do everything Israel needs. Education reporter Neal Morton highlighted the fact that unflattering quotes that appeared in some versions of the paper’s initial story about the sale later disappeared online, including one in which the new buyer’s front man, News + Media manager Michael Schroeder, implored staff to focus on their jobs and not worry about the new owners.

Out of 14 candidates, 41 percent is unheard of.” For his part, Trump has played up his willingness to self-finance his campaign, chiding opponents who court big-money donors like Adelson for being “puppets.” Sands China shares rose 0.4% to HK$26.40 as of 2:12pm in Hong Kong trading, extending gains for a third session and outperforming the Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino stocks, which fell 1.5%. The only way to actually understand this bizarre development is as yet another data point in Adelson’s decades-long track record as perhaps the most inept, clueless and ineffective political player in America.

The biggest foreign operator in Macau with four casinos, Sands China is targeting to open its fifth project, the US$2.7bil Parisian Macao, in nine to 10 months, Adelson said. This is the truth that Vegas pundits who exploit the national press’ fascination for their own gains never bother to acknowledge: Adelson is colorful but utterly irrelevant. The timing of the sale and the purchase price had pundits theorizing that Adelson bought the largest newspaper in a swing state to influence the presidential election. The Cotai Strip project, featuring a half-size Eiffel Tower replica, is hoping to get government approval for 250 new gambling tables, he said. “We should have enough tables – we have asked for 450 but nobody is getting what they hope for,” said Adelson. “We are hoping to get treated fairly which I’m quite confident the Macau government will do with us.” “Just to set the record straight, contrary to what people have been reading in the political publications, the Adelson family has not made up its mind,” he said. “We may just wait until a number of the primaries.” The 82-year-old, who has an estimated net worth of US$22bil according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, met Donald Trump at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas where the Republican candidate debate was held this week, the Washington Post reported Dec 16. The family said it waited to announce the purchase to avoid distraction from Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, which took place at an Adelson-owned casino-hotel.

He plunged $2 million to defeat three pro-labor Clark County Commission candidates amid his battles with the Culinary Union, and each won in landslides anyway. Adelson also made every effort to undermine the campaign of Shelley Berkley, one of his former corporate lawyers with whom he had a falling out, but she won and stayed in Congress for 14 years. Malone lasted one term, lost re-election in 2000 and went on to be the bagman on behalf of Vegas strip club bosses in a multi-state bribery scandal that earned him five years in the federal pen.

Jim Gibbons, a man who quickly became so unpopular that he set records for having his vetoes overridden and in 2010 was the first Nevada governor to fail to get his own party’s nomination for re-election. Nor is he the first billionaire to get into the newspaper business, especially as they became more affordable in recent years with the downturn in the industry. Dot-com millionaire Aaron Kushner snatched up the Orange County Register with a pledge to turn around the paper but walked away from the role earlier this year.

That must’ve been personally satisfying for Adelson because Heller ended Berkley’s political career, but Berkley got into ethics trouble and ran what she later admitted was a lousy campaign. Reed said reporters everywhere had spent too much time on the story with the intention of generating controversy and claimed that readers didn’t care, despite the hundreds of comments attached to the Review-Journal’s latest story online. The casino mogul is a full-throated opponent of legal online gambling, which was unleashed when the Obama Justice Department reinterpreted the Wire Act to allow for it in 2011. His resort, thus, were one of the easiest places for underage people to actually gamble out of the view of security on their parents or of-age friends’ accounts. The lack of traction for this priority, then, was evident when Chaffetz held a House hearing last week on the bill entitled “A Casino in Every Smartphone: Law Enforcement Implications.” The session turned into an opportunity for members of both parties to speak out against it as a violation of that traditional GOP chestnut, states’ rights.

Unlike the Koch brothers, who patiently spent decades laying the intellectual foundation for a conservative movement that supports unglamorous but vital offices like school boards and state legislatures, Adelson plops huge, fiscally irresponsible expenditures and projects little in the way of a coherent philosophy. Adelson of course hopes his investment not only encourages a love of Israel but a new generation of voters that might give a friendlier ear to the politicians he supports, too. And after $160 million and thousands of junketeers, there’s no evidence Birthright has encouraged Jews of any age to defect from their overwhelming and traditional support for Democrats. Thanks largely to the faulty leadership of its former publisher, himself a longtime activist right-winger who openly used the paper’s prominence in a failed effort to unseat Sen. When Republican hopefuls visit Vegas to kiss his ring, it is a spectacle of obsequiousness and humiliation that does tell us something about the candidates, to be sure.

The minute he actively manages its political or gaming coverage, he undermines his investment by destroying the thing that gives a local news outlet its value, its credibility.

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