Washington Confidential

Las Vegas Journal-Review Reporters Worried About Editorial Freedom Under Adelson

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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Breaking a major story is always a cause for celebration by reporters. But don’t expect anybody in the Las Vegas Journal-Review news room to pop open champagne bottles to celebrate their latest scoop.

After six days of stony silence and a brief non-denial denial by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson himself over rumors that he secretly bought the paper last Thursday, the Journal-Review reported online Wednesday night that his son-in-law had orchestrated the sale.

That is one scoop that Journal-Review reporters probably won’t want to brag about to their new boss, a major GOP power broker and donor. They now have the misfortunate of trying to objectively cover the guy who cuts their pay checks.

Adelson has even sued one of their own columnists for libel, losing his case but bankrupting the scribe, John Smith, in the process.

Smith could not immediately be reached for comment. But Washington bureau chief Peter Urban hung up the phone when asked for comment early this afternoon.

Journal-Review reporter James DeHaven, who helped write the story outing Adelson as the mystery purchaser, was a tad more forthcoming.

Asked if he worried his editorial freedom would suffer under Adelson, DeHaven paused for a moment before saying, “I am not going to comment it on it for now.”

Then he proceeded to comment: “I think everybody around here has made clear we are worried about that sort of thing.”

In fact, the Adelson family tried to address those concerns in their statement today confirming ownership of the paper. They said the current management team would  “continue to oversee the operations of the publication” and emphasized that “the family wants a journalism product that is second-to-none and will continue to invest in the paper to achieve this goal.”

Evan Gahr