With Adelson as Owner, Las Vegas Paper Needs Independent Public Editor

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Casino Magnate's Purchase of Review-Journal Raises 'Deeply Troubling' Ethical Issues

Nevada’s largest newspaper should appoint an independent public editor with authority to monitor and fully report on conflicts of interest and other ethical issues growing out of the paper’s sale to billionaire casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, Common Cause said today.

The non-partisan advocacy organization said a public editor, or ombudsman, at the Las Vegas Review-Journal could serve as impartial voice for readers. Once a newspaper mainstay, the position is a dying tradition at too many papers.

“Mr. Adelson’s purchase of the Review-Journal, carefully hidden until gutsy reporters at the paper rooted it out earlier this month, is deeply troubling,” said Todd O’Boyle, director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative.

“Mr. Adelson is perhaps the most deep-pocketed political donor in the country; he is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars – and maybe more – to secure the Republican presidential nomination and then the presidency itself for his preferred candidate. His purchase of the Review-Journal, the most important newspaper in a critical primary state, potentially gives him another critical tool toward accomplishing that goal,” O’Boyle said.

“And there already are signs that Mr. Adelson is attempting to influence the paper’s news coverage to serve his business interests,” O’Boyle added. “The R-J itself has reported that three of its journalists were assigned by the newspaper’s corporate managers last month to ‘Drop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.’ It turned out that one of the judges involved is hearing a suit against Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corp.

“Vigorous, independent journalism is vital to the health of democracy. While the First Amendment protects Mr. Adelson’s right to buy the paper and direct its operations, citizens should exercise their right to demand that he operate it in the public interest , or openly declare that the reporting from his publication will be slanted. The appointment of a truly independent public editor would be an encouraging sign that Mr. Adelson understands that responsibility.”

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