Late last year, the conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson acquired the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest newspaper in Nevada. The immediate effects of Adelson’s ownership on the paper’s editorial autonomy were initially minor; its reporters managed to cover the sale, and the bizarre lengths to which their employer courted their future owner, like any other story. But now the Review-Journal’s newly installed publisher, a former Gannett executive named Craig Moon, is making sure his staff fall in line with their new leader’s wishes.
- “Stories involving new owner Sheldon Adelson are being reviewed, changed or killed almost daily”
- “The newsroom is abuzz with word of a list of a half a dozen or so journalists whose work has rubbed Adelson the wrong way over the years, and who may soon be targeted for departure”
- Moon personally ordered the removal of a prominent statement of disclosure regarding Adelson’s various financial and political interests, which had been published on page A3 in daily printings of the paper. (You can still access and read the disclosure here.)
- On the same day of the statement’s removal, the Review-Journal published an article about a meeting between Adelson and representatives of the Oakland Raiders, concerning the former’s desire to erect a $1 billion football stadium in Nevada, whose construction would be partly underwritten with taxpayer money. Doctor claims that Moon personally oversaw this and subsequent articles about the proposed stadium, and in some cases “remov[ed] key points”—presumably ones that did not flatter Adelson—from the finished copy. Another stadium article never saw the light of day, Doctor adds, because Moon killed it.
We’ve asked Adelson and Moon for comment, and will update this post if we hear back. It’s unlikely they will, though. “Moon refused to comment on the recent changes, as did other principals involved in the story,” Doctor notes in his own story.
Update — 9 p.m.
Craig Moon vehemently denied Doctor’s account of his role in editing stories about Adelson’s proposed stadium in a phone call with Gawker. “That is absolutely untrue. I’ve been here for only five days,” he said. Regarding the allegation that stories about Adelson’s ventures had been killed, Moon said, “This whole notion that stories have been killed, it just isn’t true,” and added that asking reporters to do more reporting before publishing a story was common industry practice. Regarding the rumor that there existed a list of staffers whose work displeased Adelson, Moon said, “That is total blow — there is no such list, there is no such fear of reprisal.”