Billionaire Casino owner Sheldon Adelson, just paid $140 million for the Nevada’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review Journal. Sheldon usually gets his way. One way or another. He once sued a pesky reporter at the Review Journal for defamation and attempted to bully the newspaper into submission. They insisted on having journalistic integrity and writing what they thought was news. Much of that news portrayed the gambling tycoon in bad light. I know it’s shocking, but Adelson has been known to donate large sums of money to candidates who then go on to do things favorable to Mr. Adelson. Say it ain’t so! Sorry, but it’s true, I’m sure it was only a coincidence, nothing insidious like payback.
When you’re rich and powerful, you get accustomed to getting your way. You don’t like to be told “no”. So when the Las Vegas paper wouldn’t “play ball”, Sheldon found another way to get his message across. He bought them. As you can imagine, the journalists at the Review Journal are a little nervous about their new boss Luca Brasi, I mean Adelson. I’m sure they have nothing to worry about…maybe.
Shortly after the Adelson takeover, Editor Mike Hengel accepted a buyout and resigned. Maybe someone made him an offer he couldn’t refuse? Either way he exited quickly. You don’t mess with Sheldon. He’s the boss. It was rumored that even the article announcing the Adelson purchase was heavily scripted from the top. That was just a nasty rumor. I’m sure the reporters have nothing to worry about. I’m sure that piece about how Adelson pressured congress to use the RAWA (Restoration of Americas Wire Act) to crush online gambling that has been hurting his brick and mortar casinos will be a winner. No problem with that investigative piece connecting the dots between Adelson and Senators Graham and Rubio and Jason Chaffetz in the house. I’m sure that story will definitely be front page news at the Review Journal. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that those three politicians have succeeded in having RAWA brought up in both houses. Only a crazy person would think there was crony capitalism going on here. It’s a good thing we have honest media outlets to cover stories like this. Right?
In Sheldon’s world, if you need a problem to go away all it takes is the right amount. Everyone has a price and when you’re estimated to be worth 20+Billion…you’ve got the jack needed to foot the bill. If you need a senator or a congressman to outlaw your competition, no problem, their campaigns or PACs always need money. If you have a newspaper giving you trouble and not saying the right things, buy them. Problem solved.
Everything about Adelson buying out this paper stinks. He used a shell company to hide his identity from the newspaper. Then he paid about $40 million more than the paper was worth nine months ago. Finally, the main editor is ushered out the door leaving the rank and file reporters shaking in their boots. It doesn’t take a genius to see this for what it is. A silencing of the enemy. Adelson may call it a shrewd business investment, and it is, but not because the paper is worth anything to him. He purchased the sound of silence, and that is priceless. Or actually, it was worth $140 million this time. How much will it be next time?